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ON THE EDGE OF 
THE PRIMEVAL FOREST 



AUTHOR 



OF IftEiSTORICAL JESUS 

Translated by tfc,RBV. W. MONTGOMERY, B.A., B.D. 

With a Prefaee"by *ROF. F.-C. BURKITT, M.A., D.1X 

Second Edition. Demy Svo, doth. 



PAUL AND HIS INTERPRETERS 

A CRITICAL HISTORY. 

Translated by the RBV. W. MONTGOMERY, B.A., B.D. 
Demy Svo, doth. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF CIVILIZATION 

gaU ^morxal Itectew, 1922. 

PART I. THE DECAY AND THE RESTORATION 
OF CIVILIZATION. 

Translated by C. T. CAMPION, M.A. 

Demy Svo, doth. 
PART II. CIVILIZATION AND ETHICS 

Translated by JOHN NAISH, BXitt., D.3D. 
Demy Svo, doth. 



J. S. BACH 

Translated by ERNESIL NEWMAN. 
In Two Volumes. Demy Svo, doth. 

The above are published by 
A. & C. BLACK, LTD., 4, SOHO Sg^ LONDON, W.i. 

THE MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM 
OF GOD 

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FIG. I. LUMBERMEN AND TIMBER-RAFTS AT THE MOUTH OF THE OGOWE. 



ON THE EDGE OF THE 
PRIMEVAL FOREST 

EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS OF 
A DOCTOR IN EQUATORIAL AFRICA 



BY 



PROF. ALBERT SCHWEITZER 

D1LTHIOI-, DR. USD., DR. PHIL. (STBASSBURG), 

Author of * The Quest of tb* Historical Jesus," " Paul and 
bis Interpreter*? *J. 5. Becb," tic. 



TRANSLATED BY 



CH. TH. CAMPION, M.A. 

un or OKB. OOUMI, oxnio 



CONTAINING i ILLUSTRATIONS FROM 
PHOTOGRAPHS, AND A SKETCH MAP 



A, & C. BLACK, LTD. 
4, 5 & 6 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W. 
1924 



DEDICATION 

To the friends dead and living who have helped me in the 
enterprise of which this book is a part, in deepest gratitude. 



NOTE 

With regard to the English Edition of this book I owe a debt of 
thanks to two friends. Mr. Ch. Th. Campion, M.A., now of 
Grahamstown, S. Africa, had the goodness to prepare and to put 
at tny disposal his very excellent translation, and Mr. John Naish. 
of Oxford, was kind enough to revise the proofs and to undertake 
the final corrections. 



First published, January igth, 
Reprinted, April, 1922, January, 1923, and February, 1924. 

IN GRJBA.T BRITAIN BY THE WRTTSFKURS PRESS, LTD., 
J.OXDON AND TOSEHIDGI. 



CONTENTS 

:HAP. PAGE 
I. HOW I CAME TO BE A DOCTOR IN THE FOREST. 

THE LAND AND PEOPLE OF THE OGOWE . I 

II. THE JOURNEY IO 

III. FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND EXPERIENCES . 29 

IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 39 
V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 ... 69 

VI. LUMBERMEN AND RAFTSMEN IN THE 

PRIMEVAL FOREST ... * 94 

VII. SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST * * III 

VIII. CHRISTMAS, 1914 . . . 136 

'-? 

IX* CHRISTMAS, 1915 142 

X. THE MISSION .....* 153 

XI. CONCLUSION 168 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



no. 



1. LUMBERMEN AND TIMBER-RAFTS AT THE 

MOUTH OF THE OGOWE . . Frontispiece 

FACING FAGS 

2. A RIVER STEAMER ON THE OGOWE . . 21 

3. THE DOCTOR'S LITTLE BUNGALOW (DISTANT 

VIEW) 28 

4. THE DOCTOR'S LITTLE BUNGALOW (NEAR 

VIEW) 28 

5. THE HOSPITAL AT LAMBARENE ... 62 

6. JOSEPH, THE HOSPITAL ASSISTANT, BANDAGING 

SORES IN FRONT OF THE HOSPITAL . . 76 

7. NEGRO CHILD WITH ABDOMINAL DROPSY . 76 

8. PAHOUIN BOYS FROM LAMBARENE . . 88 

9. STUMP OF A MAHOGANY TREE . . . Iqi 

10. RAFT OF OKOUME WOOD AND MAHOGANY 

BEING FLOATED DOWN THE OGOWE RIVER 104 

11. PREMISES OF A TIMBER MERCHANT AT 

LAMBARENE . ..... Io8 

12. A LITTLE PLANTATION OF BANANAS ON THE 

MARGIN OF THE UNTOUCHED FOREST . 112 

13. NEGRO VILLAGE AT LAMBARENE . . I2O 

14. ON THE BANK OF THE OGOWE RIVEfc . , 136 

15. A MISSIONARY'S BUNGALOW AT LAMBARENE * 149 

16. THE BOYS' SCHOOL AT LAMBARENE . , 156 

Note. I am indebted for a large part of the photographs 
to the kindness of a grateful patient. Illustrations Nos. 5 and 
6 are based on a slide made by Mr. Ottznann* For illustra- 
tion No. 3 I have to thank Mr. Pelot, and for Nos. 4 and 15 
Mr. Morel. 



ON THE EDGE OF THE 
PRIMEVAL FOREST 



CHAPTER I 

HOW I CAME TO BE A DOCTOR IN THE FOREST. THE 
LAND AND PEOPLE OF THE OGOWE 

I GAVE up my position of professor in the University 
3i Strasbourg, my literary work, and my organ-play- 
ing, in order to go as a doctor to Equatorial Africa. 
Eow did that come about ? 

I had read about the physical miseries of the natives 
in the 'virgin forests; I had heard about them from 
missionaries, and the more I thought about it the 
stranger it seemed to me that we Europeans trouble 
ourselves so little about the great humanitarian task 
which offers itself to us in far-off lands, ; The parable 
of Dives and Lazarus seemed to me to. have been 
spoken directly of us ! We are Dives, for, through the 
advances of medical science, we now know, a great deal 
about disease and pain, and have innumerable means 
of fighting them,: yet we take as a matter of course the 
incalculable advantages which this new wealth gives 
us I Out there in the colonies, however, sits wretched 
Lazarus, the coloured folk, who suffers from illness 



2 I. HOW I CAME TO BE A DOCTOR IN THE FOREST 

and pain just as much as we do, nay, much more, and 
has absolutely no means of fighting them. And just 
as Dives sinned against the poor man at his gate 
because fpr want of thought he never put himself in 
his place and let his heart and conscience tell him what 
he ought to do, so do we sin against the poor man at 
our gate. 



The two or three hundred doctors whom the Euro- 
pean States maintain as medical officers in the colonial 
world could undertake only a very small part (so I 
argued to myself) of the huge task, even if the 'majority 
of them were not'there for the benefit, first of all, of the 
white coonists and the troops. Society in general 
must recognise this work of humanity to be its tstsk, 
and there must come a time when doctors go out into 
the world of their own free will, but sent and supported 
by society and in numbers corresponding to the need, 
to work for the benefit of the natives. Then only 
shall we be recognising and beginning to act upon the 
responsibility in respect of the coloured races which 
lies upon us as inheritors of tlfe world's dvilisation.- 

Moved by these thoughts I resolved, when already 
thirty years old, to study medicine and to put my 
ideas to the test out there. At the beginning of 1913 
1 graduated as M.D. That same spring I started with 
my wife, who had qualified as a nurse, for the River 
Ogowe in Equatorial Africa, there to begin my active 
work. 

I chose this locality because some Alsatian mis- 
sionaries in the service of the Paris Evangelical Mission 



THE DECISION 3 

had told me that a doctor was badly needed there on 
account of the constantly spreading sleeping sickness. 
The mission was prepared alsoto place at my disposal 
one of the houses at their station at Lambarene, and to 
allow me to build a hospital in their grounds, promising 
further to give me help with the work. 

The actual expenses of the undertaking, however, I 
had to provide myself, and to that I devoted what I 
had earned by giving organ concerts, together with 
the profits from my book on Bach, which had appeared 
in German, French, and English. In this way the old 
Thomas Cantor of Leipsig, Johann Sebastian himself, 
helped me in the provision of a hospital for negroes in 
the virgin forest, and kind friends in Germany, France, 
and Switzerland contributed money. When we left 
Europe, the undertaking was securely financed for two 
years, the expenses apart from the journey out and 
back- being, as I reckoned, about 15,000 francs* a 
year, and this calculation proved to be very nearly 
correct. 

The keeping of the accounts and the ordering of all 
the things needed had been undertaken by self-sacrific- 
ing friends in Strasbourg, and the cases, when packed, 
were sent to Africa by the mission with their own. 

My work then lived & use a scientific term in 
symbiosis with the Paris Evangelical Mission, but it 
was, in itsdf , undenominational and international. It 
was, and is still, my conviction that the humanitarian 
work to be done in the world should, for its accom- 
plishment, call upon us as men, not as members of aav 
particular nation or religious body, 

* !. about 600 p.a. at the then normal rate of exchange 

ma, 



4 I. HOW I CAME TO BE A DOCTOR IN THE FOREST 

Now for a word about the country which was the 
scene of our labours. The Ogowe district belongs to 
the Colony of Gaboon,- and the Ogowe itself is a river, 
700 to 800 miles long, north of, and roughly parallel to, 
the Congo. Although smaller than the latter, it is yet 
a magnificent river, and in the lower part of its course 
its width is from 1,200 to 2,200 yards. For the last 
120 miles it divides into a number of arms which enter 
the Atlantic near Cape Lopez, but it is navigable for 
fairly large river steamers as far as N'DjSle, about 250 
miles up stream. At that point begins the region of 
hills and mountains which leads up to the great plateau 
of Central Africa. Here also begins a series of rapids 
which alternate with stretches of ordinary open river, 
and these rapids can only be surmounted by small 
screw steamers, built for the purpose, and by native 
canoes. 

While along the middle and upper course of the 
Ogowe the country is a mixture of prairie and wood, 
there is along the lower part of the river, from N'Djole 
downwards, nothing but water and virgin forest. This 
damp, low-lying ground is admirably suited for the 
cultivation of coffee, pepper, cinnamon, vanilla," and 
cocoa ; the oil palm also grows well in it. " But the 
chief business of Europeans is neither the cultivation 
of these things, nor the collection of rubber in the 
forest, but the timber trade. Now on the west coast 
of Africa, which is very poor in harbours, especially in 
such as have rivers discharging into them, conditions 
are very seldom favourable for the loading of timber 
cargoes. But the Ogowe has the great advantage of 
discharging into an excellent roadstead without any 
bar; the huge rafts can lie alongside the steamers 



THE OGOWE DISTRICT 5 

which are to take them away without danger of being 
broken up and scattered on a bar or by a heavy swell. 
The timber trade, therefore, is likely to be for an in- 
definite period the chief industry of the Ogowe 
district. 

Cereals and potatoes it is, unfortunately, impossible 
to cultivate, since the warm, damp atmosphere makes 
them grow too fast. Cereals never produce the usual 
ear, and potato haulms shoot up without any tubers 
below. Rice, too, is for various reasons not cultivable. 
Cows cannot be kept along the lower Ogowe because 
they cannot eat the grass that grows there, though 
further inland, on the central plateau, they flourish 
splendidly. It is necessary, therefore, to import from 
Europe flour, rice, potatoes, and milk, a fact which 
makes living a complicated business and very expen- 
sive. 

Lamb^gne lies a little south of the Equator, so that 
its "seasons are those of the Southern hemisphere: 
winter when it is summer in Europe, and vice versd. 
Its winter is characterised by its including the dry 
season, which lasts from the end of May to the beginning 
of October, and summer is the rainy season, the rain 
falling from early in October to the middle of Decem- 
ber, and from the middle of January to the end of May. 
About Christmas one gets three to four weeks of con- 
tinuous summer weather, and it is then that the ther- 
mometer record is highest. 

The average shade temperature in the rainy season 
is 82 S6 R,* in the dry season about 77 82 F., 
the nights being always nearly as hot as the days. 
This circumstance, and the excessive moisture of the 

* I.*., 28* to 30 and 25 to 28 C. 



6 L HOW I CAME TO BE A DOCTOR IN THE FOREST 

atmosphere, are the chief things which make the 
climate of the Ogowe lowlands such a trial for a Euro- 
pean. After a year's residence fatigrue and anaemia 
begin to make themselves disagreeably perceptible. 
At the end of two or three years he becomes incapable 
of real work, and does best to return to Europe for at 
least eight months in order to recruit. 

The mortality among the whites at Libreville, the 
capital of Gaboon, was, in 1903, 14 per cent. 



Before the war there lived in the Ogowe lowlands 
about two hundred whites: planters, timber mer- 
chants, storekeepers, officials, and missionaries. The 
number of the natives is hard to estimate, but, at any 
rate, the country is not thickly inhabited. We have at 
present merely the remains of eight once powerful 
tribes, so terribly has the population been thinned by 
three hundred years of alcohol and the slave trade. Of 
the Orungu tribe, which lived in the Ogowe delta, there 
are scarcely any left ; of the Galoas, who belonged to 
the Lambarene district, there remain still 80,000 at 
most. Into the void thus created there swarmed from 
inland the cannibal Fans, called by the French Pa.hni.rina, 
who have never yet come into contact with civilisation, 
and but for the opportune arrival of the Europeans 
this warripr folk would by this time have eaten up the 
old tribes of the Ogowe lowlands. Lambarene forms 
in the river valley the boundaiy between the Pahouins 
and the old tribes. 

Gaboon was discovered by the Portuguese at the end 
of the fifteenth century, and by 1521 there was a 
Catholic mission settlement on the coast between the 



THE COLONISATION OF OGOWE AND ITS MISSIONS 7 

mouths of the Congo and the Ogowe. Cape Lopez is 
named after one of them, Odoardo Lopez, who came 
out there in 1578. In the eighteenth century the 
Jesuits had extensive plantations on the coast, with 
thousands of slaves, but they were as far from pene- 
trating to the hinterland as were the white traders. 

When, in the middle of the nineteenth century, the 
French and the English combined to fight the slave 
trade on the west coast, they cKose, in 1849, ^ e ^ a 7 
which lies north of that of Cape Lopez for the head- 
quarters of their fleet, establishing there also a settle- 
ment to which they could send the rescued slaves: 
hence the name Libreville. That the narrow channels 
which empty themselves here and there into Cape 
Lopez bay belonged to a great river, the whites did 
not yet know, for the natives inhabiting the coast had 
withheld the information in order to keep the inland 
trade in their own hands. It was not till 1862 that 
Lieut. Serval, while on an excursion to the south-east 
of Libreville, discovered the Ogowe in the neighbour- 
hood of Lambarene. Then began the exploration, 
from Cape Lopez, of the lower course of the river, 
and the chiefs were gradually brought to acknowledge 
the French protectorate. 

When in the eighties the need was felt of finding the 
most convenient route for trade from the coast up to 
the navigable parts of the Congo, de Brazza believed 
that it was to be found in the Ogowe, since this river 
rises only some 125 miles north-west of Stanley Pool, 
arxd is separated from the Alima, a navigable tributary 
^f the Congo, only by a narrow watershed. He even 
, succeeded in getting to the Congo by this route a steamer 
which could be taken to pieces and transported by 



8 I. HOW I CAME TO BE A DOCTOR IK THE FOREST 

land, but the route proved to be impracticable for 
trade on account of the difficulties caused by the rapids 
in the upper part of the Ogowe. The construction of 
the Belgian-Congo railway between Matadi and Brazza- 
ville was finished in 1898, and this put a final end to 
any idea of making the Ogowe a way to the Congo. 
To-day the Ogowe is used only by the traffic which 
goes up to its own still comparatively unexplored 
hinterland. 

The first Protestant missionaries on the Ogowe were 
Americans, who came there about 1860, but as they 
could not comply with the requirement of the French 
Government that they should give their school instruc- 
tion in French, they resigned their work later on to the 
Paris Missionary Society. 

To-day this society owns four stations : N'G6m6, 
Lambarene, Samkita, and Talagouga. N'G&mo is 
about 140 miles from the coast, and the others follow 
one another in that order at intervals of about 35 miles. 
Talagouga is situated on a picturesque island just in 
front of N'Djole, which is the farthest point to which 
the river steamer goes. 

At each Protestant mission station there are generally 
one unmarried and two married missionaries, and, as a 
rule, a woman teacher also, making five or six persons, 
without reckoning the children. 

The Catholic mission has three _stations in the same 
district: one in Lambarene, one In N'Djole, and one 
near Samba, on the N'Gounje, the largest tributary of 
the Ogowe, and on each station there live about ten 
whites : usually three priests, two lay brothers, a! 
five sisters. 

The administrative officials of the district an 



THE COLONISATION OF OGOWE AND ITS MISSIONS 9 

stationed at Cape Lopez, at Lambarene, at Samba, 
and at N'Djole, with about five hundred coloured 
soldiers distributed over it to act as a police force. 

Such was the country, and such the people among 
whom for four and a half years I worked as the forest 
doctor. What I experienced during that time and the 
obse'rvations I made previous to the outbreak of the 
war, I shall now describe with the help of the reports 
which I wrote every six months in Lambarene and 
sent as printed letters to my friends and supporters. 
During the war such correspondence was, of course, 
impossible, and for that later period and for what is 
said about the religious and social problems treated of, 
I rely on memoranda which I made for my own use. 



CHAPTER II 

THE JOURNEY 

LA.MBARBNB, July, 1913. 

THE church bells in my native Alsatian village of 
Giinsbach, in the Vosges, had just ceased ringing for 
the afternoon service on Good Friday, 1913, when the 
train appeared round the corner of the wood, and the 
journey to Africa began. We waved our farewells 
from the platform of the last coach, and for the last 
time saw the fieche on the church tower peeping up 
among the trees. When should we see them again ? 
When next day Strasbourg Cathedral sank out of sight 
we seemed to be already in a foreign land. 

On Easter Sunday we heard once more the dear old 
organ of S. Sulpice's Church in Paris and the wonderful 
playing of our friend Widor. At two o'clock the 
Bordeaux train glided out of the underground station 
at the Quai d'Orsay, and we began a delightful journey. 
Everywhere we saw people in their holiday dress ; the 
sunshine was brilliant, and the warm spring breeze 
brought out of the distance the sound of the village 
church bells, which seemed to be greetings to the train 
that was hurrying past. It was an Easter Day which 
seemed a glorious dream. 

The Congo steamers do not start from Bordeaux 
but from Pauillac, which is an hour and a half by train 
nearer the sea. But I had to get my big packing case, 
which had been sent in advance by goods train, out of 



FROM THE VOSGES TO TENERIFFE n 

the custom house at Bordeaux, and this was closed on 
Easter Monday. There would have been no time on 
Tuesday to manage it, but fortunately an official 
observed and was touched by our anxiety, and enabled 
me to get possession of my goods without all the 
prescribed formalities. But it was only at the last 
minute that two motor cars got us and our belongings 
to the harbour station, where the train was already 
waiting which was to convey the passengers for the 
Congo to their ship. The feeling of relief can hardly 
be described with which, after all the excitement and 
the payment of all those who had helped us off, we sank 
into our seats in the railway carriage. The guard 
blew his whistle ; the soldiers who were also going took 
their places ; we moved out into the open, and for a 
time had the enjoyment of blue sky and pleasant 
breeze, with the sight here and there of water, and 
yellow broom in flower, and cows quietly grazing. In 
an hour and a half we are at the quay among packing 
cases, bales, and barrels, ten yards from the ship, called 
the Europe, which is gently tossing on the somewhat 
restless waters of the Gironde. Then came a time of 
crushing, shouting, signalling to porters ; we push and 
are pushed till, over the narrow gangway, we get on 
board and, on giving our names, learn the number of 
the cabin which is to be our home for three whole weeks. 
It is a roomy one, well forward and away from the 
engines, which is a great advantage. Then we had just 
time to wash before the bell rang for lunch. 

We had at our table several officers, the ship's doctor, 
an army doctor, and two wives of colonial officials who 
were returning to their husbands after a voyage home 
to recruit AH of them, as we soon discovered, had 



12 II. THE JOURNEY 

already been in Africa or in other colonies, so* that we 
felt ourselves to be poor untravelled home birds. I 
could not help thinking of the fowls my mother used 
to buy every summer from Italian poultry dealers to 
add t6 her stock, and which for several days used to 
walk about among the old ones very shyly and humbly ! 
One thing that struck me as noticeable in the faces of 
our fellow travellers was a certain expression of energy 
and determination. 

As there was still a great deal of cargo to come aboard 
we did not start till the following afternoon, when 
under a gloomy sky we drew slowly down the Gironde. 
As darkness gradually set in the long roll of the waves 
told us that we had reached the open sea, and about 
nine o'clock the last shimmering lights had disappeared. 

Of the Bay of Biscay the passengers told each other 
horrid tales. " How I wish it were beheld us 1 " we 
heard at every meal-time, but we were to make full 
proof of its malice. On the second day after starting 
a regular storm set in, and the ship pitched and tossed 
like a great rocking-horse, and rolled from starboard to 
port, and back from port to starboard, with impartial 
delight. The Congo boats do this more than others 
in a heavy sea because, in order to be able to ascend 
the river as far as Matadi, whatever the state of the 
water, they are of a comparatively shallow build. 

Being without experience of ocean travel, I had 
forgotten to make the two cabin trunks fast with cords, 
and in the night they began to chase each other about. 
The two hat cases also, which contained our sun helmets, 
took part in the game without reflecting how badly ofl 
they might come in it, and when I tried to catch the 
trunks, I nearly got one leg crushed between them and 



FROM THE VOSGES TO TENERIFFE 13 

the wall of the cabin. So I left them to their fate and 
contented myself with lying quietly in my berth and 
counting how many seconds elapsed between each 
plunge made by the ship and the corresponding rush 
of our boxes. Soon there could be heard similar ; noises 
from other cabins and, added to them, the sound of 
crockery, etc., moving wildly about in the galley and 
the dining saloon. With morning came a steward, who 
showed me the scientific way of making the baggage 
fast. 

For three days the storm lasted with undiminished 
force. Standing or even sitting in the cabins or the 
saloons was not to be thought of ; one was thrown 
about from one corner to the other, and several passen- 
gers received more or less serious injuries. On Sunday 
we had cold food only, because the cooks were unable 
to use the galley fire, and it was not till we were near 
Teneriffe that the storm abated. 

I had been looking forward to the first sight of this 
island, which is always said to be so magnificent, but, 
alas ! I overslept myself and woke only as we were 
entering the harbour. Then, scarcely had the anchor 
been dropped, when we were hemmed in on both sides 
by coaling-hulks from which were hoisted sacks of food 
for the engines, to be emptied through the hatches into 
the ship's hold. 



Tenerifie lies on high ground which slopes rather 
steeply into the sea, and has all the appearance of a 
Spanish town. The island is carefully cultivated and 
produces potatoes enough, to supply the whole coast 



I 4 II. THE JOURNEY 

of West Africa, besides bananas, early potatoes, and 
other vegetables for Europe. 

We weighed anchor about three o'clock, and I stood 
in the bows and watched how the anchor slowly left 
the bottom and came up through the transparent water. 
I watched also, with admiration, what I took for a blue 
bird flying gracefully above the surface of the sea, 
till a sailor told me it was a flying fish. 

Then, as we moved from the coast southwards, there 
rose slowly up behind the island the snow-capped 
summit of its highest mountain, till it lost itself in the 
clouds, while we steamed away over a gently heaving 
sea and admired the entrancing blue of the water. 

It was during this portion of the voyage that we 
found it possible to become acquainted with one 
another. The other passengers were mostly army 
officers and doctors and civil service officials ; it 
surprised me to find so few traders on board. The 
officials, as a rule, are told only where they are to land, 
and not until on shore do they get ;to know their 
ultimate destination. 

Among those whom we got to know best were a 
lieutenant and a Government official. The latter was 
going to the Middle Congo region and had to leave his 
wife 'and children for two years. The lieutenant was 
in much the same position, and was expecting to go up 
to Abescher. He had already been in Tonquin, and 
in Madagascar, on the Senegal, the Niger, and the 
Congo, and he was interested in every department of 
colonial affairs. He held crushing views about Mahom- 
medanism as it prevails among the natives, seeing in it 
the greatest danger there is for the future of Africa. 
" The Mahommedan nogro/' he said, " is no longer any 



FROM TENERIFFE TO CAPE LOPEZ " 15 

good for anything. You may build him railways, dig 
him canals, spend hundreds of thousands of pounds 
to provide irrigation for the land he is to cultivate, but 
it all makes no impression on him ; he is absolutely 
and on principle opposed to everything European, 
however advantageous and profitable it may be. But 
let a marabout a travelling preacher of Islam come 
into the village on his ambling horse with his yellow 
cloak over his shoulders, then things begin to wake up ! 
Everybody crowds round him, and brings his savings 
in order to buy with hard cash charms against sickness, 
wounds, and snake bite, against bad spirits and bad 
neighbours. Wherever the negro population has turned 
Mahommedan there is no progress, either socially or 
economically. When we built the first railway in 
Madagascar, the natives stood for days together round 
the locomotive and wondered at it ; they shouted for 
joy when it let off steam, and kept trying to explain to 
each other how the thing could move. In an African 
town inhabited by Mahommedan negroes, the local 
water power was used once for an installation of electric 
light, and it was expected that the people would be 
surprised at the novel brightness. But the evening 
that the lamps were first used the whole population 
remained inside their houses and huts and discussed the 
matter there, so as to show their indifference to the 
novelty." * 

Very valuable I found my acquaintance with a 
military doctor who had already had twelve years' 
experience of Equatorial Africa, and was going to Grand 

Bassam as director of the Bacteriological Institute there. 



* In some African colonies Mahosctnedan negroes are more open 
to progress* 



16 II. THE JOURNEY 

At my request lie spared me two hours every morning, 
during which he gave me an account of the general 
system of tropical medicine, illustrated by his own 
experiments and experiences. It was very necessary, 
he thought, that as many independent doctors as 
possible should devote themselves to the care of the 
native population ; only so could we hope to get the 
mastery of the sleeping sickness. 

The day after we left Teneriff e the troops were ordered 
to wear their sun-helmets whenever they were outside 
the saloons and cabins. This precaution struck me as 
noticeable, because the weather was still cool and fresh, 
hardly warmer than it is with us in June, but on the 
same day I got a warning from an " old African," as I 
was enjoying the sight of the sunset with nothing on my 
head. " From to-day onwards," he said, " you must, 
even though the weather is not yet hot, regard the sun 
as your worst enemy, and that whether it is rising, or 
high in heaven, or setting, and whether the sky is 
cloudy or not. Why this is so, and on what the sun's 
power depends, I cannot tell you, but you may take it 
from me that people get dangerous sunstrokes before 
they get dose to the equator, and that the apparently 
gmild heat of the rising or setting sun is even more 
treacherous than the full glow of that fiery body at 
mid-day." 1 

At Dakar, the great harbour of the Colony of 
Senegambia, my wife and I set foot for the first time 
on the soil of Africa to which we were to devote our 
lives, and we felt it as a somewhat solemn moment 
Of Dakar itself I have no kindly remembrance, for I 
cannot forget the cruelty to animals which is universal 
there. The town lies on a steep slope, the streets are 



FROM TENERIFFE TO CAPE LOPEZ 17 

mostly in very bad condition, and the lot of the poor 
beasts of burden which are at the mercy of the negroes 
is terrible : I have never seen such overworked horses 
and mules as here. On one occasion when I came on 
two negroes who were perched on a cart heavily laden 
with wood which had stuck in the newly mended street, 
and with loud shouts were belabouring their poor beast, 
I simply could not pass by, but compelled them to 
dismount and to push behind till the three of us got the 
cart on the move. They were much disconcerted, but 
obeyed without replying. " If you cannot endure to 
see animals ill-treated, don't go to Africa ! " said the 
lieutenant to me when I got back. " You will see 
plenty of that kind of horror here." 

At this port we took on board a number of Senegalese 
tirailleurs with their wives and children. They lay 
about the foredeck, and at night crept, head and all, 
into big sacks, as they had to sleep in the open. The 
wives and children were heavily loaded with charms, 
enclosed in little leather bags, even the babies at the 
breast not being exempt. 

The shores of Africa I had pictured to myself as 
desert, and when, on the way to Konakri, the next 
place of call to Dakar, we put in towards the coast, I 
was surprised to see nothing but magnificently green 
woods coming down right to the water's edge. With 
my telescope I could see the pointed huts of the negro 
villages, and rising between us and them, like a cloud, 
the spray of the waves on the bar ; the sea, however, 
was fairly calm, and the coast, so fax as I could see, was 

flat. 

" A shark 1 A shark ! " I rushed from the writing 
^.saloon, and was shown a black triangular object 



18 II. THE JOURNEY 

projecting from the water and moving in the direction 
of the ship. It was a fin of that dreaded sea-monster, 
and whoever has once seen it never forgets it or confuses 
it with anything else. The West African harbours all 
swarm with sharks. In Kotonou I saw one, enticed by 
the kitchen refuse, come to about twelve yards from the 
ship. The light being good and the water very trans- 
parent, I could see for several minutes the whole length 
of its glistening grey and yellow body, and observe how 
the creature turned over nearly on to its back to get 
what it considered worth devouring into its mouth, 
which, as we all know, is placed on the underside of its 
head. 

In spite of the sharks the negroes in all these harbours 
are ready to dive for coins, and accidents seldom 
happen to them, because the noise they make during 
the proceedings gets on the nerves of even these 
wolves of the sea. At Tabou I was astonished to see 
one of the divers quite silent while the rest were crying 
out for more coins, but I noticed later that he was the 
most skilful of the lot and had to keep silent because 
his mouth served as his purse, and he could hardly 
shut it for the number of nickel and silver coins that 
were in it. 

From Konakri onwards we were almost always 
within sight of the coast. The Pepper Coast, the Ivory 
Coast, .the Gold Coast, the Slave Coast ! If only that 
line of forest on the horizon could tell us about all the 
cruelty it has had to witness 1 Here the slave dealers 
used to land and ship their living cargoes for transport 
to America. " It is not all as it should be, even to- 
day/' said to me an employee of a big trading firm, 
who was returning for a third period of work to" his post 



FROM TENERIFFE TO CAPE LOPEZ 19 

in Africa. " We bring the negroes strong drink and 
diseases which were previously unknown among them. 
Do the blessings we bring the natives really outweigh 
the evils that go with them ? " 

Several times during meals I found myself watching 
the guests at the different tables. All had already 
worked in Africa, but with what objects ? What ideals 
had they ? So pleasant and friendly here, what sort 
of people were they away in their places of work? 
What responsibility did they feel ? In a few days the 
three hundred of us who left Bordeaux together will 
have landed in Africa, and in a few weeks we shall be 
separated, taking up our duties on the Senegal, on the 
Niger, on the Ogowe, on the Congo and its tributaries, 
some even as far away as take Chad, to work in these 
different regions for three years or so. What shall we 
accomplish? If everything could be written down 
that is done during these years by all of us who are 
now here on this ship, what a book it would be ! Would 
there be no pages that we should be glad to turn over as 
quickly as possible ? - * * 

But the ship is carrying us on and on. Grand 
Bassam . . * Kotonou . . * Each time there are hearty 
farewells exchanged between many who have hardly 
spoken to each other. . " Good health to you ! " The 
words are spoken with a smile, but again and again, and 
in this climate they have a serious sound. How will 
those to whom they are spoken look when they come 
on board next ? And will they all come back ? . . . 
The windlasses and cranes begin to creak ; the boats 
are dancing on the waves ; the red roofs of the seaside 
totm throw us a bright greeting from out of the mass 
of greenery; the waves breaking on the sandy bar send 



ao II. THE JOURNEY 

up their clouds of spray . . . and behind them all lies 
the immeasurable stretch of land, at some place in 
which every one who leaves us here is to be a lord and 
master, all his doings having a significance of some sort 
for the great land's future. " Good health to you I 
Good health- to you ! " It seems to be scarcely a 
solemn enough farewell for all that lies in the future ! 

At Tabou and at Grand Bassam, on the Ivory Coast, 
and at Kotonou, the swell is so heavy even in good 
weather that passengers cannot get into the boats by 
the rope-ladder, but must be lowered into them four 
at a time in wooden boxes, such as one sees on merry- 
go-rounds at village fairs. It is the duty of the engineer 
who manages the crane to seize the right moment for 
letting the cradle with its four occupants safely down 
into the bottom of the boat which is dancing up and 
down on the waves ; the negro in the boat has to see 
that his craft is exactly below the cradle as it descends, 
and accidents are not infrequent. The unloading of 
cargo is also a very difficult operation and only pos- 
sible in calm weather. I now understand the assertions 
that West Africa is very poor in good harbours. 

At Tabou we took on board, as is done on every 
voyage, some fifty negroes for handling the cargo. 
They are taken as far as the Congo, to be landed again 
OB the return voyage, and they helped with the unload- 
ing at Libreville, Cape Lopez, and Matadi, the places 
to which most of the freight is consigned. .They do 
their work perfectly, almost better than the dock 
labourers at Pauillac,-but their behaviour towards the 
other coloured folk on board is brutal. Whenever the 
latter get the least bit in their way they come to 
blows. 




c 
S 

H 






ftt 

t: 



FROM TENERIFFE TO CAPE LOPEZ si 

Every evening the glimmer of the sea, as the ship 
ploughs her way through it, is wonderful : the f oain is 
phosphorescent, and little jelly-fishes spring up through 
it like glowing balls of metal. After leaving Konakri 
we saw almost every night the reflection of storms that 
swept across the country, and we passed through 
several deluges of rain accompanied by tornadoes 
that did nothing, however, to cool the air. On cloudy 
days the heat was worse than on others, and the sun, 
although not shining directly on us, was said to be 
much more dangerous in such weather than at other 
times. 

Early on April 13th, a Sunday, we reached Libre- 
ville, and were welcomed by Mr. Ford, the American 
missionary, who brought us a preliminary gift from 
Africa of flowers and fruit from the mission-house 
garden. We thankfully accepted his invitation to visit 
the mission station, which is called Baraka, and is 
situated on a hill about 2\ miles along the coast from 
Libreville. As we mounted the hill through the rows 
of neat bamboo huts belonging to the negroes, the 
chapel doors opened after service. We were introduced 
to some of the congregation and had a dozen black 
hands to shake. What a contrast between these dean 
and decently clothed people and the blacks that we had 
seen in the seaports, the only kind of native we had met 
up to now ! Even the faces are not the same. These 
had a free and yet modest look in them that cleared 
from my mind the haunting vision of sullen and unwill- 
ing subjection, mixed with insolence, which had hitherto 
looked at me out of the eyes of so many negroes. 

From Libreville to Cape Lopez it is only an eight 
hours' run. When, early on Monday, April I4th, we 



22 II THE JOURNEY 

came in sight of the harbour, an anxiety seized me 
which I had felt before occasionally during the last 
week or so. The custom house and the duties ! During 
the latter part of the voyage all sorts of tales had been 
told at meal times about the colonial duties. " Ten 
per cent, on the value of all you bring you'll have to 
fork out 1 " said an old African. " And whether the 
things are new or old doesn't matter in the least 1 " 
added another. However, the customs officer was 
fairly gracious to us. Perhaps the anxious faces we 
showed, as we laid before him the list of the things in 
our seventy cases, toned him down to a gentler mood, 
and we returned to the ship with a delightful feeling of 
relief, to sleep in it for the last time. But it was an 
uncomfortable night : cargo was being unloaded and 
coal taken in, till the negroes at the cranes could no 
longer stand for weariness. 



Early on Tuesday we transferred to the Alembe, 
which, being a river boat, was built broad and shallow, 
and its two paddle-wheels were side by side at the 
stern, where they are safe from wandering tree trunks, 
It took up only tEe passengers and their personal 
luggage, being already full of cargo. Our cases were 
to follow in the next boat a fortnight later. We' 
started at 9 a.m., so as to pass safely at high tide over 
the sandbanks which block the mouth of the Ogowe, 
and a few passengers who had stayed on shore too long 
were left behind. They overtook usi, however, later on 
in a motor boat 

River and. forest . , . f Who can really describe 
the first impression they make? We seemed to.be 



UP THE OGOWE TO LAMBARENE 23 

dreaming ! Pictures of antediluvian scenery which 
elsewhere had seemed to be merely the creation of 
fancy, are now seen in real life. It is impossible to 
say where the river ends and the land begins, for a 
mighty network of roots, clothed with bright-flowering 
creepers, projects right into the water. Clumps of 
palms and palm trees, ordinary trees spreading out 
widely with green boughs and huge leaves, single trees 
of the pine family shooting up to a towering height in 
between them, wide fields of papyrus clumps as tall as 
a man, with big fan-like leaves, and amid all this 
luxuriant greenery the rotting stems of dead giants 
shooting up to heaven. ... In every gap in the forest 
a water mirror meets the eye ; at every bend in the 
river a new tributary shows itself. A heron flies heavily 
up and then settles on a dead tree trunk ; white birds 
and blue birds skim over the water, and high in air a 
pair of ospreys circle. Then yes, there can be no 
mistake about it ! from the branch of a palm there 
hang and swing two monkey tails ! Now the owners 
of the tails are visible. We are really in Africa ! 

So it goes on hour by hour. Each new corner, each 
new bend, is like the last. Always the same forest and 
the same yellow water. The impression which nature 
makes on us is immeasurably deepened by the constant 
and monotonous repetition. You shut your eyes for 
an hour, and when you open them you see exactly 
what you saw before. The Ogowe is not a river but 
a river system, three or four branches, each as big as 
the Rhine, twisting themselves together, and in between 
are lakes big and little. How the black pilot finds 
his way correctly through this maze of watercourses is 
a riddle to me. With the spokes of the great whed in 



2 4 II. THE JOURNEY 

his hand he guides the ship, without any map before 
him, from the main stream into a narrow side channel, 
from this into the lake, and from the lake back into the 
main strea-m ; and so again and again. But he has 
worked up and down this stretch of water for sixteen 
years, and can find his way along even by moonlight 1 

The current in the lower part of the river is sluggish, 
but it is very different higher up, though it nowhere 
becomes as strong as that of the Rhine. Invisible 
sandbanks and tree trunks floating just below the 
surface demand very cautious navigation, and the boat's 
a\ erage speed is not more than eight miles an hour. 

After a long run we stop at a small negro village, 
where, stacked on the river bank, are several hundred 
logs of wood, such as bakers often use, and we lie to in 
order to ship them, as wood is the fuel used for the 
engines. A plank is put out to the bank ; the negroes 
form line and carry the logs on board. On the deck 
stands another negro with a paper, and as soon as 
ten logs have passed, another on the plank calls to 
him in musical tones, "Put a one." When the 
hundredth log comes, the call, in the same pleasant 
tone, is, " Put a cross." The price is from four to 
five francs a hundred, which is rather high when one 
considers that the logs are all windfalls and only have 
to be collected. 

The captain abuses the village elder for not having 
had logs enough ready. The latter excuses himself 
with pathetic words and gestures. At last they come 
to an agreement that he shall be paid in spirits instead 
of in cash, because he thinks that the whites get their - 
liquor cheaper than the blacks do, so that he will make 
a. better bargain. . . . Every litre of alcohol pavs two 



UP THE OGOWE TO LAMBARENE 25 

francs duty on coining into the colony, and I pay for 
the absolute alcohol which I use for medical purposes 
the same duty as is paid on the ordinary liquor for 
drinking. 

Now the voyage continues. On the banks are the 
ruins of abandoned huts. " When I came out here 
fifteen years ago," said a trader who stood near me, 
"these places were all flourishing villages/* "And 
why are they so no longer ? " I asked. He shrugged 
his shoulders and said in a low voice, " I/alcohol. . /' 

A little after sunset we lay to opposite a store, and 
two hours were spent in shipping 3,000 logs. " If we 
had stopped here in daylight/' said the merchant to 
me, " all the negro passengers " (there were about sixty 
of them) " would have gone ashore and bought spirits. 
Most of the money that the timber trade brings into 
the country is converted into rum. I have travelled 
about in the colonies a great deal, and can say that 
mm is the great enemy of every form of civilisation." 

Thus with the ennobling impressions that nature 
makes are mingled pain and fear ; with the darkness of 
the first evening on the Ogowe there lowers over one 
the shadow of the misery of Africa. Through the gloam- 
ing chimes the monotonous call, " Make a one," " Make 
a cross " ; and I feel more convinced than ever that 
this land needs to help it men who will never let titean- 
selves be discouraged. 

With the help of the moon we are able to go further. 
Now we see the forest like a gigantic border on the river 
bank ; now we seem to graze its dark wall, from which 
there streams out a heat that is almost unendurable- 
The starlight lies gently on the water ; in the distance 
there is summer lightning. Soon after midnight the 



*6 II. THE JOURNEY 

vessel is anchored in a quiet bay, and the passengers 
creep into their mosquito nets. Many sleep in the 
cabins ; others on the couches along the walls of the 
dining saloon, under which are stored the mail sacks. 

About 5 a.m. the engines are set in motion again. 
We have now covered nearly 130 miles (200 kilometres), 
and the forest is more imposing than further down- 
stream. In the distance appears a hill with red roofs 
upon it : the mission station of N'G6m6 ; and the two 
hours spent in shipping logs gives us time to see the 
station and its sawmill. 

Five hours later the slopes of Lambarene come in 
sight, and the steamer sounds its syren, though it will 
take another half hour to reach the village. But the 
inhabitants of the widely scattered stores must be 
warned in good time, so that they can bring their 
canoes to the landing stage and take possession of the - 
goods that we have brought for them. 

The Lambarene mission station is an hour further 
on by canoe, so that no one could be at the landing 
stage to greet us, but while the cargo was being unloaded 
I suddenly saw a long, narrow canoe, rowed by merrily 
singing boys, shoot round the ship, and so fast, indeed, 
that the white man in the stern had only just time-to 
throw himself backwards and save his head from 
contact with the ship's cable. It is Mr. Christol, with 
the lower dass of the boys' school, and behind them 
comes another boat with Mr. Ellenberger, rowed by 
the upper class. The boys had made it a race, and the- 
younger ones had won; perhaps, however, because 
they were given the lighter boat. They were, therefore, 
allowed to convey the doctor and his wife ; the others, 
took the luggage aboard, What charming young 



UP THE OGOWE TO LAMBARENE 27 

faces f One little man walked solemnly about, carrying 
my heavy rifle. 

The canoe journey we found at first anything but 
comfortable. These vessels are only tree trunks 
hollowed out and are therefore both flat and narrow, 
so that their equilibrium is very easily disturbed. 
Moreover, the rowers do not sit, but stand, which, again, 
does not contribute to their stability. With a long, 
narrow paddle, which is held freely in the hands, the 
crew strike the water, singing also so as to keep in time 
with each other, and a single awkward movement of 
one of the rowers may upset the canoe. However, in 
half an hour's time we had overcome our anxiety, and 
enjoyed the trip thoroughly. The steamer was by 
now again on its way upstream, and the boys raced it, 
with such eagerness, too, that they nearly ran into 
another canoe with three old negresses in it. 

In half an hour's time we leave the main stream for a 
branch one, the singing still going on as merrily as ever, 
and we can see some white spots on a hill that is 
flooded with light from the setting sun : the houses of 
the mission station ! The nearer we get, the louder is 
the singing, and, after crossing a stream which gusts of 
wind make rather rough, the canoe glides into a quiet 
little bay. 

First there are a dozen black hands to shake, but that 
seems now quite natural. Then, Mrs. Christol, Miss 
Humbert, the schoolmistress, and Mr. Kast, the manual 
worker, conduct us to our little house, which the children 
have hastily decorated with palms and flowers. Built 
of wood, the house stands on some forty iron piles, 
which raise it about 20 inches from the ground, and a 
verandah runs all round its four small rooms. The 



28 II. THE JOURNEY 

view is entrancing : below us is the stream, which here 
and there widens into a lake ; all round -is forest, but 
in the distance can be seen a stretch of the main stream, 
and the background is a range of blue hills. 

We have scarcely time to unpack the things we need 
at once when night comes on, as it does here always 
just after six. Then the bell summons the children to 
prayers in the schoolroom, and a host of crickets begin 
to chirp, making a sort of accompaniment to the hymn, 
the sound of which floats over to us, while I sit on a box 
and listen, deeply moved. But there comes an ugly 
shadow creeping down the wall ; I look up, startled, 
and see a huge spider, much bigger than the finest I 
had ever seen in Europe. An exciting hunt, and the 
creature is done for. 

After supper with the Christols the school children 
appear in front of the verandah, which has been 
decorated with paper lanterns, and sing in two parts 
to the tune of a Swiss Volkslied some verses composed 
by Mr. Ellenberger in honour of the doctor's arrival. 
Then we are escorted by a squad of lantern-bearers up 
the path to our house, but before we can think of retiring 
to rest we have to undertake a battle with spiders and 
flying cockroaches, who seem to regard as their own 
domain the house which has been so long uninhabited. 

At six o'clock next morning the bell rings ; the hymn 
sung by the children in the schoolroom is soon heard, 
and we prepare to begin our new work in our new home. 





PIGS. 3 AXD 4. THE DOCTOR'S LITTLE Bl'XGALOW. 
Above: Distant view, with orange and citron trees in the foreground; Below: Xenrview. 



CHAPTER III 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND EXPERIENCES 

LAMBARENE, July, 19x3. 

STRICT orders had been widely published that only 
the most serious cases were to be brought to the doctor 
for the first three weeks, so that he might have time 
to settle in, but, naturally, not much attention was 
paid to them. Sick people turned up at every hour of 
the day, but practical work was very difficult, as, first 
of all, I had to rely on any interpreter who might be 
picked up on the road, and, secondly, I had no drugs, 
instruments, or bandages except what I had brought 
in my trunk. 

A year before my arrival a black teacher in the 
mission school at SamMta, N'Zeng by name, had offered 
his services as interpreter and doctor's assistant, and I 
had sent word to for to come to Lambarene imme- 
diately on my arrival, but he did not come because in 
his native village, sixty miles away, he had to carry 
through a legal dispute over a will. At last I had to 
send a canoe with a message that he must come at once, 
and he promised to do so, but week after week went by 
and still he did not arrive. Then Mr. Ellenberger said 
to me with a smile : " Doctor, 'your education has 
begun. You are finding out for the first time what 
every day will prove to you more conclusively, how 
impossible it is to rely upon the blacks." 



30 III. FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND EXPERIENCES 

During the night of April 26th we heard the whistle 
of the steamer and soon learnt that our cases had been 
unloaded at the Catholic mission station, which is on 
the river bank, the captain having refused to venture 
on the, to him, unknown water of our branch stream. 
Fortunately, however, Mr. Champel and Mr. Pelot, 
the industrial missionaries from N'G6m6, had come to 
Lambarene, with ten of their native labourers, to help 
us. I was extremely anxious about the conveyance of 
my piano with pedal attachment, built for the tropics, 
which the Bach Society of Paris had given me', in 
recognition of many years' service as their organist, so 
that I might keep myself in practice even in Africa. 
It seemed to me impossible that such a piano, in its 
heavy zinc-lined case, could be carried in a hollowed-out 
tree trunk, and yet there are no other boats here 1 
One store, however, possessed a canoe, hewn out of a, 
gigantic tree, which could carry up to three tons 
weight, and this they lent me. It would have carried 
five pianos 1 

Soon, by dint of hard work, we got our seventy,cases 
across, and to get them up the hill from the river bank 
every sound set of limbs in the station came to help, 
the school children working as zealously as any one. 
It was amusing to see how a case suddenly got a crowd 
of black legs underneath it and two rows of woolly 
heads apparently growing out of its sides, and how, amid 
shouting and shrieking, it thus crept up the bill Tin 
three days everything had been carried up, and the 
N > G6m6 helpers were able to go home. We hardly 
knew how to thank them enough, for without their help 
we could not possibly have managed the job. 

Unpacking was a trial, for it was difficult to dispose 



SETTLING IN 31 

of the various articles. I had been promised a corru- 
gated-iron building as a hospital, but it was impossible 
to get its framework erected, as there were no labourers 
to be had. For several months the timber trade had 
been very good, and the traders paid the labourers 
wages with which the Mission could not compete. In 
order, however, that I might have ready at hand, at 
any rate, the most necessary drugs, Mr. Kast, the 
industrial missionary, fixed some shelves in my sitting- 
room, the wood for which he had himself cut and 
planed. One must be in Africa to understand what a 
boon some shelves on the wall are ! 

That I had no place in which to examine and treat 
the sick worried me much. Into my own room I could 
not take them for fear of infection. One arranges at 
once in Africa (so the missionaries impressed on me from 
the beginning) that the blacks shall be in the white 
people's quarters as little as possible. This is a 
necessary part of one's care for oneself. So I treated and 
bandaged the sick in the open air before the house, 
and when the usual evening storm came on, everything 
had to be hastily carried into the verandah. Treating 
patients in the sun was, moreover, very fatiguing. 



Under the pressure of this discomfort I decided to 
promote to the rank of hospital the building which my 
predecessor in the house, Mr. Morel, the missionary, 
had used as a f owlhouse. I got some shelves fixed on 
the walls, installed an old camp-bed, and covered the 
worst of the dirt with whitewash, feeling myself more 
than fortunate. It was, indeed, horribly close in the 



32 III. FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND EXPERIENCES 

little windowless room, and the bad state of the roof 
made it necessary to wear my sun-helmet all day, but 
when the storm came on I did not have to move every- 
thing under cover. I felt proud the first time I heard 
the rain rattling on the roof, and it seemed incredible 
that I could go quietly on with my bandaging. 

At the same time I discovered an interpreter and 
assistant. Amongst my patients there turned up a 
very intelligent-looking native, who spoke French 
remarkably well, and said he was a cook by trade but 
had had to give up that kind of work as it disagreed 
with Ms health-. I asked him to come to us tem- 
porarily, as we could not find a cook, and at the same 
time to help me as interpreter and surgical assistant. 
His name was Joseph, and he proved extremely handy. 
It was hardly surprising that, as he had acquired his 
knowledge of anatomy in the kitchen, he should, as a 
matter of habit, use kitchen terms in the surgery: 
"This man's -right leg of mutton (gigot) hurts him." 
" This woman has a pain in her upper left cutlet, and 
in her loin I " At the end of May N'Zeng arrived, the 
man whom I had written to engage beforehand, but as 
he did not seem to be very reliable, I kept Joseph on. 
Joseph is a Galoa, N'Zeng a Pahouin. 

Work was now fairly well started. My wife had 
charge of the instruments and niade the necessary 
preparations for the surgical operations, at which she 
served as assistant, and she also looked after the 
bandages and the washing of the linen. Consultations 
begin about 8:30, the patients waiting in the shade of 
my house in front of the fowlhouse, which is my 
surgery, and every morning one of the assistants reads 
out 



PRACTICE IN A FOWLHOUSE 33 

THE DOCTOR'S STANDING ORDERS. 

1. Spitting near the doctor's house is strictly forbidden. 

2. Those who are waiting must not talk to each other 
loudly. 

3. Patients and their friends must bring with them food 
enough for one day, as they cannot all be treated early in the 
day. 

4. Any one who spends the night on the station without 
the doctor's permission will be sent away without any 
medicine. (It happened not infrequently that patients 
from a distance crowded into the schoolboys' dormitory 
turned them out, and took their places.) 

5. All bottles and tin boxes in which medicines are given 
must be returned. 

6. In the middle of the month, when the steamer has gone 
up the river, none but urgent cases can be seen till the 
steamer has gone down again, as the doctor is then writing 
to Europe to get more of his valuable medicines. (The 
steamer brings the mail from Europe about the middle of 
the month, and on its return takes our letters down to the 
coast.) 

These six commandments are read out every day 
very carefully in the dialects of both the Galoas and 
the Pahouins, so that no long discussion can arise 
afterwards. Those present accompany each sentence 
with a nod, which indicates that they understand, and 
at the finish comes a request that the doctor's words 
shall be made known in all the villages, both on the 
river and on the lakes. 

At 12.30 the assistant announces : " The doctor is 
going to have his lunch." More nods to show that they 
understand, and the patients scatter to eat their own 
bananas in the shade. At a p.m. we return, but at 



34 HI. FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND EXPERIENCES 

6 p.m. there are often some who have not yet been 
seen, and they have to be put off till the next day. To 
treat them by lamplight cannot be thought of because 
of the mosquitoes and the risk of fever infection. 

Each patient is given, on leaving, a round piece of 
cardboard on a string of fibre, on which is the number 
under which his name, his complaint, and the medicines 
given him are recorded in my register, so that if he 
conies back I have only to turn to the page to learn all 
about the case, and be spared a time-wasting second 
diagnosis. The register records also all the bottles, 
boxes, bandages, etc., which were given; only with 
this means of control is it possible to demand the 
return of these things, which in about half the cases we 
do get back. How valuable bottles and boxes are 
away from the civilised world only he can rightly 
estimate who has had to get medicines ready in the 
primeval forest for patients to take home with them ! 

The atmosphere is so damp here that medicines, 
which in Europe can be wrapped in paper or distri- 
buted in cardboard boxes, can only be kept in good 
condition in a corked bottle or in a tin box which 
closes perfectly. I had not taken sufficient account of 
this, and I found myself in such difficulty about it that 
I had to fall out with patients who said they had for- 
gotten or lost a tin box. My friends in Europe were 
entreated by every post to collect from their acquaint- 
ances bottles big and little, glass tubes with corks, 
and tin boxes of all sorts and sizes. How I look for- 
ward to the day when I shall have a sufficient supply 
of such things 1 

The round cardboard ticket with the number on it 
most <?f the patients wear round their neck, together with 



PRACTICE IN A FOWLHOUSE 35 

the metal one which shows that they have paid their 
five franc poll tax for the current year. It is seldom 
lost or forgotten, and many of them, especially among 
the Pahouins, regard it as a kind of fetish. 

My name among the natives in Galoa is " Oganga," 
i.e., fetishman. They have no other name for a doctor, 
as those of their own tribesmen who practise the heal- 
ing art are all fetishmen. My patients take it to be 
only logical that the man who can heal disease should 
also have the power of producing it, and that even at a 
distance. To me it is striking that I should have the 
reputation of being such a good creature and yet, at 
the same time, such a dangerous one ! That the dis- 
eases have some natural cause never occurs to my 
patients : they attribute them to evil spirits, to mali- 
cious human magic, or to " the worm," which is their 
imaginary embodiment of pain of every sort. When 
they are asked to describe their symptoms, they talk 
about the worm, telling how he was first in their legs, 
then got into their head, and from there made his way 
to their heart ; how he then visited their lungs, and 
finally settled in their stomach. All medicines have 
to be directed to expelling him. If I quiet a colic 
with tincture of opium, the patient comes next day 
beaming with joy and tells me the worm has been driven 
out of his body but is now settled in his head and is 
devouring his brain : will I please give him something 
to banish the worm from his head too ? 

A great deal of time is lost trying to make them 
understand how the medicines are to be taken. Over 
and over again the interpreter tells them, and they 
repeat it after him ; it is written, also, on the bottle 
or box, so that they can hear the directions again from 

9$ 



36 III. FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND EXPERIENCES 

any one in their village who can read, but in the end 
I am never sure that they do not empty the bottle 
at one go, and eat the ointment, and rub the powders 
into their skin. I get, on the average, from thirty to 
forty people a day to treat, and the chief complaints 
are skin diseases of various sorts, malaria, the sleeping 
sickness, leprosy, elephantiasis, heart complaints, sup- 
purating injuries to the bones (osteomyelitis), and 
tropical dysentery. To stop the discharge from the 
sores the natives cover the place with powder made 
from the bark of a certain tree. This hardens gradually 
into a paste which hinders the escape of the pus and, 
of course, makes the case much worse. 

From the list of the complaints which come oftenest 
to be treated the itch (scabies) must not be omitted. It 
causes the blacks very great distress, and I have had 
patients who had not slept for weeks because they had 
been so tortured by the itching ; many had scratched 
their whole body till the blood came, so that there 
were festering sores to treat as well as scabies. The 
treatment is very simple. The patient first washes in 
the river, and is then rubbed all over, however tall he 
is, with an ointment compounded of flower of sulphur 
(sulphur depuratum), crude palni oil, remains of oil 
from sardine tins, and soft soap. In a tin which once 
contained sterilised milk he receives a quantity of this 
ointment with which to give himself at home two more 
rubbings. The success of this is wonderful, the itching 
ceasing to worry on the second day, and this ointment 
has in a very few weeks made me famous far and wide. 

The natives have great confidence in the white man's 
medicine, a result which is partly, at any rate, due to 
the self-sacrificing spirit and the wise understanding 



PRACTICE IN A FOWLHOUSE 37 

with which they have been treated for a generation here 
on the Ogowe. In this connection I may specially 
mention Mrs. Lantz, of Talagouga, a native of Alsace, 
who died in 1906, and Mr. Robert, of N'Gomo, a Swiss, 
who is now lying seriously ill in Europe. 

My work is rendered much harder by the fact that 
I can keep so few medicines in the fowlhouse. For 
almost every patient I have to cross the court to my 
dispensary, there to weigh out or to prepare the 
medicine needed, which is very fatiguing and wastes 
much time. When will the iron building for the 
hospital be seriously taken in hand ? Will it be ready 
before the autumn rainy season begins ? What shall 
I do if it is not ready ? In the hot season I shall not 
be able to work in the fowlhouse. 

I am worried, too, by the fact that I have hardly 
any medicines left, for my clientele is much more 
numerous than I had expected. By the June mail I 
sent off an extensive order, but the things will not be 
here for three or four months, and my quinine, anti- 
pyrin, bromide of potassium, salol, and dermatol are 
almost exhausted. 

Yet what do all these disagreeables count for com- 
pared with the joy of being here, working and helping ? 
However limited one's means are, how much one can 
do with them ! Just to see the joy of those who are 
plagued with sores, when these have been cleanly 
bandaged up and they no longer have to drag their 
poor, bleeding feet through the mud, makes it worth 
while to work here. How I should like all my helpers 
to be able to see on Mondays and Thursdays the 
days set apart for the bandaging of sores the freshly 
bandaged patients walking or being carried down the 



38 III. FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND EXPERIENCES 

hill, or that they could have watched the eloquent 
gestures with which an old woman with heart complaint 
described how, thanks to digitalis, she could once more 
breathe and sleep, because the medicine had made 
" the worm " crawl right away down to her feet ! 

As I look back over the work of two months and a 
half, I can only say that a doctor is needed, terribly 
needed, here; that for a huge distance round the 
natives avail themselves of his help, and that with 
comparatively small means he can accomplish a quite 
disproportionate amount of good. The need is terrible. 
" Here, among us, everybody is ill," said a young man 
to me a few days ago. " Our country devours its own 
children/' was the remark of an old chief. 



CHAPTER IV 

JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

LAMBARENB, February, 1914. 

THE Lambarene mission station is built on hills, 
the one which lies farthest upstream having on its 
summit the buildings of the boys' school, and on the 
side which slopes down to the river the storehouse and 
the largest of the mission houses. On the middle hill 
is the doctor's little house, and on the remaining one 
the girls' school and the other mission house. Some 
twenty yards beyond the houses is the edge of the forest. 
We live, then, between the river and the virgin forest, 
on three hills, which every year have to be secured 
afresh against the invasion of wild Nature, who is 
ever trying to get her own back again. All round the 
houses there are coffee bushes, cocoa trees, lemon trees, 
orange trees, mandarin trees, mango trees, oil palms, 
and pawpaw trees. To the negroes its name has always 
been " Andende." Deeply indebted are we to the first 
missionaries that they took so much trouble to grow 
these big trees. 

The station is about 650 yards long and no to 120 
yards across. We measure it again and again in 
every direction in our evening and Sunday consti- 
tutionals, which one seldom or never takes on the 
paths that lead to the nearest villages. On these 



40 IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

paths the heat is intolerable, for on either side of these 
narrow passages rises the forest in an impenetrable 
wall nearly 100 feet high, and between these walls not 
a breath of air stirs. There is the same absence of 
air and movement in Lambarene. One seems to be 
Eving in a prison. If we could only cut down a corner 
of the forest which shuts in the lower end of the station 
we should get a little of the breeze in the river valley ; 
but we have neither the money nor the men for such 
an attack on the trees. The only relief we have is that 
in the dry season the river sandbanks are exposed, and 
we can take our exercise upon them and enjoy the 
breeze which blows upstream. 

It had been originally intended to put the hospital 
buildings on the ridge of high ground on which the 
boys* school stands, but as the site was both too far 
away and too small, I had arranged with the staff of 
the station that I should be given a place for it at the 
foot of the hill on which I myself lived, on the side next 
the riven This decision had, however, to be confirmed 
by the Conference of Missionaries which had been called 
to meet at Samkita at the end of July. So I went there 
with Mr. Ellenberger and Mr. Christol, to put my case, 
and that was my first long journey in a canoe. 

* 
* * 

We started one misty morning two hours before day- 
break, the two missionaries and myself sitting one 
behind the other in long folding chairs in the bow. 
The middle of the canoe was filled with our tin boxes, 
our folded camp-bedsteads, the mattresses, and with 
the bananas which formed the rations of the natives. 
Behind these things were the twelve rowers in six 



FIRST JOURNEY IN A CANOE 41 

pairs one behind the other; these sang about the desti- 
nation to which we were bound and about who was on 
board, weaving in plaintive remarks about having to 
begin work so early and the hard day's work they had 
in front of them ! Ten to twelve hours was the time 
usually allowed for the thirty to thirty-five miles 
upstream to Samkita, but our boat was so heavily 
laden that it was necessary to allow somewhat longer. 

As we swung out from the side channel into the 
river, day broke, and enabled us to see along the huge 
sandbank some 350 yards ahead some dark lines moving 
about in the water. The rowers' song stopped instantly, 
as if at a word of command. The dark lines were the 
backs of hippopotami, which were enjoying their 
morning bath after their regular grazing time on land. 
The natives are much afraid of them and always give 
them a wide berth, for their temper is very uncertain, 
and they have destroyed many a canoe. 

There was once a missionary stationed in Lambarene 
who used to make merry over the timidity of his rowers, 
and challenge them to go nearer to the great animals. 
One day, just as he was on the point of bursting into 
laughter, the canoe was suddenly shot up into the air 
by a hippopotamus which rose from its dive imme- 
diately beneath it, and he and the crew only saved 
themselves with difficulty. All his baggage was lost. 
He afterwards had a square patch, with the hole that 
the creature had made, sawn out of the bottom of the 
canoe, that he might keep it as a souvenir. This hap- 
pened some years ago, but the story is told to any white 
man who asks his crew to row nearer to a hippopotamus. 

In the main stream the natives always keep close 
to the bank where the current is not so strong : there 



4* IV. JULY, 19:3 JANUARY, 1914 

are even stretches of river where one finds a counter- 
current flowing upstream. And so we creep along, as 
far as possible in the shade of the overhanging trees. 
This canoe has no rudder, but the rower nearest the 
stern guides it in obedience to signals from the one in 
front, who keeps a sharp lookout for shallows, rocks, 
and floating tree trunks. The most unpleasant thing 
on these trips is the way in which the light and heat 
are reflected from the water. One feels as if from the 
shimmering mirror one were being pierced with arrows 
of fire. To quench our thirst we had some magnificent 
pineapples, three for each of us. 

Sunrise brought the tsetse fly, which is active only 
by day, and compared with which the worst mosquito 
is a comparatively harmless creature.* It is about 
half as large again as our ordinary house fly, which it 
resembles in appearance, only its wings, when closed, 
do not lie parallel to each other but overlap like the 
blades of a pair of scissors. To get blood it can pierce 
the thickest cloth, but it 'is extremely cautious and 
artful, and evades cleverly all blows of the hands. 
The moment it feels that the body on which it has- 
settled makes the slightest movement, it flies off and 
hides itself on the side of the boat. Its flight is inaudible 
and a small fly-whisk is the only means of protecting 
oneself to some extent from it. Its habit of caution 
makes it avoid settling on any light-coloured object, 
on which it would be easily detected : hence white 
clothes are the best protection against it. This state- 
ment I found fully confirmed during this trip, for two 
of us wore white, and one yellow clothes. The two of 

* The Glossina palpdli$> which conveys the germs of the sleeping 
sickness, belongs, as is well known, to the Tsetse family. 



FIRST JOURNEY IN A CANOE 43 

us hardly ever had a fly upon us: our companion 
had to endure continual annoyance, but the blacks 
were the worst sufferers. 

At mid-day we stopped at a native village, and while 
we ate the provisions we had brought with us, our crew 
roasted their bananas. I wished that after such hard 
work they could have had some more substantial food, 
It was very late in tht evening before we reached our 
destination. 

With the conference, which sat for a whole week, I 
was strongly impressed. I felt it inspiring to be 
working with men who for years had practised such 
renunciation in order to devote themselves to the 
service of the natives, and I enjoyed thoroughly the 
refreshing atmosphere of love and good-will. My pro- 
posal had a most friendly reception : it was decided that 
the iron shed and the other hospital buildings should be 
erected on the place I had in view, and the mission 
gave me 80 (4,000 fr.) towards the cost of building. 

On our return journey we crossed the river twice in 
order to avoid groups of hippopotami, one of which 
came up only fifty yards away. Darkness had already 
come on when we reached our side channel, and for a 
whole hour we had to pick our way between sandbanks, 
the crew having now and again to jump out and pull or 
push the canoe forward. At last we got into deep water : 
the song of the crew deepened into a roar, and soon we 
saw lights moving, which advanced in zigzag lines down 
to a lower levd and there came to a halt together. It was 
the ladies of Lambarene and the negro women who had 
come to meet the returning travellers at the landing 
place. The canoe cuts through the water with a whish, 
and with a last spurt is carried high up the beach. The 



4 6 IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 19x4 

dispose of them. If they are allowed to remain on the 
station they disturb us with their cries all the night 
through, and I have to get up again and again to 
quieten them with a subcutaneous injection. I can 
look back on several terrible nights which resulted ia 
my feeling tired for many a day afterwards. The diffi- 
culty can be surmounted in the dry season, for then I 
can make the mental patients and their friends camp 
out on a sandbank about 600 yards away, although 
getting across to see them twice a day consumes a great 
deal both of time and of energy. 

The condition of these poor creatures out here is 
dreadful. The natives do not know how to protect 
themselves from them. Confinement is impossible, as 
they can at any time break out of a bamboo hut. They 
are therefore bound with cords of bast, but that only 
makes their condition worse, and the final result almost 
always is that they are somehow or other got rid of. 
One of the Samkita missionaries told me once that a 
couple of years before, while sitting one Sunday in his 
house, he had heard loud cries in a neighbouring village. 
He got up and started off to see what was the matter, 
but met a native who told him it was only that some 
children were having the sand flies cut out from their 
feet ; he need not worry, but might go home again. 
He did so, but learnt the next day that one of the vil- 
lagers, who had become insane, had been bound hand 
and foot and' thrown into the water. 

My first contact with a mentally-diseased native 
happened at night. I was knocked up and taken to a 
palm tree to which an elderly woman was bound. 
Around a fire in front of her sat the whole of her family, 
and behind them was the black forest wall. It was a 



HEART DISEASE, MENTAL MALADIES. POISON 47 

glorious African night and the shimmering glow of the 
starry sky lighted up the scene. I ordered them to set 
her free, which they did, but with timidity and hesita- 
tion. The woman was no sooner free than she sprang 
at me in order to seize my lamp and throw it away. The 
natives fled with shrieks in every direction and would 
not come any nearer, even when the woman, whose 
hand I had seized, sank quietly to the ground as I told 
her, and offered me her arm for an injection of morphia 
and scopolamin. A few moments later she followed 
me to a hut, where, in a short time, she went to sleep. 
The case was one of an attack of recurrent maniacal 
disturbance, and in a fortnight she was well again, at 
least for a time. In consequence of this the report 
spread that the doctor was a great magician and could 
cure all mental diseases. 

Unfortunately, I was soon to learn that there are 
forms of maniacal disturbance here with which our 
drugs can do little or nothing. The second case was an 
old man, and he, too, was brought with hands and feet 
bound. The ropes had cut deeply into his flesh, and 
hands and feet alike were covered with blood and sores. 
I was amazed at the small effect produced by the 
strongest doses of morphia, scopolamin, chloral hydrate, 
and bromide of potassium. On the second day Joseph 
said to me : " Doctor, believe me, the man is out of his 
mind because he has been poisoned. You will make 
nothing of him ; he will get weaker and wilder, and at 
last he will die," And Joseph was right ; in a fortnight 
the man was dead. From one of the Catholic fathers I 
learnt that he had robbed some women, and, therefore, 
had been followed up and poisoned by their relatives. 

A similar case I was able to study from the beginning. 



4 8 IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

One Sunday evejiing there arrived in a canoe a woman 
who was writhing with cramp. I thought at first that it 
was simple hysteria, but the next day maniacal dis- 
turbance supervened, and during the night she began 
to rave and shriek. On her, too, the narcotics had 
hardly any effect, and her strength rapidly diminished. 
The natives surmised that she had been poisoned, and 
whether they were right or not I am not in a position to 
decide. 

From all I hear it must be true that poison is much 
used in these parts, and further south that is still 
oftener the case : the tribes between the Ogowe and 
the Congo are notorious in this respect. At the same 
time there are, among the natives, many inexplicable 
cases of sudden death which are quite unjustifiably 
regarded as the result of poison. 

Anyhow, there must be many plants the juices of 
which have a peculiarly stimulating effect on the 
system. I have been assured by trustworthy persons 
that there are certain leaves and roots which enable 
men to row for a whole day without experiencing either 
hunger, thirst, or fatigue, and to display at the same 
time an increasingly boisterous merriment. I hope in 
time to learn something more definite about these 
" medicines, but it is always difficult to do so, because 
the knowledge jabout them is kept a strict secret. Any 
one who is suspected of betraying anything about them, 
and, above all, if it is to a white man, may count with 
certainty on being poisoned. . 

That the medicine men employ poison to maintain 
their authority I learnt in a peculiar way through 
Joseph. About the middle of the dry season his 
village went ofi to a sandbank about three hours 



HEART DISEASE. MENTAL MALADIES. POISON 4$ 

upstream from here, on a fishing expedition. These 
fishing days are not unlike the Old Testament harvest 
festivals, when the people " rejoiced before Yahweh," 
Old and young live together for a fortnight in " booths " 
made with branches of trees and eat at every meal 
fresh fish, boiled, baked, or stewed. Whatever is not 
consumed is dried and smoked, and if all goes well, a 
village may take home with it as many as ten thousand 
fish. As Joseph's eyes nearly start from their sockets 
whenever the conversation turns on fish, I proposed 
to allow him to go out with his village for the first 
afternoon, and asked him to take a small tub in which 
to bring back a few fishes for the doctor. He showed, 
however, no enthusiasm at the prospect, and a few 
questions put me in possession of the reason. On 
the first day there is no fishing done, but the place 
is blessed. The " elders " pour rum and throw 
tobacco leaves into the water to put the evil spirits 
into a good humour, so that thsy may let the fish be 
caught in the nets and may injure no one. These 
ceremonies were once omitted several years ago, but 
the following year an old woman wrapped herself up 
in a net and let herself be drowned. " But why ? 
Most of you are Christians ! " I exclaimed ; " you 
don't believe in these things ! " " Certainly not," he 
replied, " but any one who spoke against them or even 
allowed himself to smile while the rum and tobacco 
were being offered, would assuredly be poisoned sooner 
or later. The medicine men never forgive, and they 
live among us without any one knowing who they are/' 
So he stayed at home the first day, but I allowed him 
to go some days later. 



5 o IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

Besides the fear of poison there is also their dread of 
the supernatural power for evil which one man can exert 
over another, for the natives here believe that there 
are means of acquiring such powers. Whoever has 
the right fetish can do anything ; he will always be 
successful when hunting, and lie can bring bad luck, 
sickness, and death on any oi.e whom he wishes to 
injure. Europeans will never be able to understand 
how terrible is the life of the poor creatures who pass 
their days in continual fear of the fetishes which can 
be used against them. Only those who have seen 
this misery at close quarters will understand that it is 
a simple human duty to bring to these primitive 
peoples a new view of the world which can free them 
from these torturing superstitions. In this matter the 
greatest sceptic, did he find himself out here, would 
prove a real helper of mission work. 

What is fetishism? It is something born of the 
fears of primitive man. Primitive man wants to 
possess some charm to protect him from the evil spirits 
in nature and from those of the dead, as well as from 
the power for evil of his fellow men, and this protecting 
power he attributes to certain objects which he carries 
about with him. He does not worship his fetish, but 
regards it as a little bit of property which cannot but 
oe of service to him through its supernatural powers. 

What makes a fetish ? That which is unknown is 
supposed to have magical power. A fetish is composed 
of a number of little objects which fill a small bag, a 
buffalo horn, or a box ; the things most commonly 
used are red feathers, small parcels of red -earth, 
leopard's claws and teeth, and . . . bells from Europe I 
Bells of an old-fashioned shape which date from the 



FETISHISM 51 

barter transactions of the eighteenth century ! Oppo- 
site the mission station a negro has laid out a small 
cocoa plantation, and the fetish which is expected to 
protect it hangs on a tree in a corked bottle. Nowadays 
valuable fetishes are enclosed in tin boxes, so that they 
may not be damaged by termites, from whose ravages a 
wooden box gives no permanent protection. 

There are big fetishes and little ones. A big one 
usually includes a piece of human skull, but it must 
be from the skull of some one who was killed expressly 
to provide the fetish. Last summer at a short distance 
below the station an elderly man was killed in a canoe. 
The murderer was discovered, and it is considered to 
have been proved that he committed the crime in order 
to secure a fetish by means of which he hoped to ensure 
the fulfilment of their contracts by people who owed 
him goods and money ! 

A few weeks later my wife and I took a walk one 
Sunday through the forest to Lake Degele, which is 
about two hours distant. In the village in which we 
took a mid-day rest the people had nothing to eat 
because for several days the women had been afraid 
to go out to the banana field. It had become known 
that several men were prowling about the neighbour- 
hood who wanted to kill some one in order to obtain a 
fetish. The women of Lambarene asserted that these 
men had also been seen near one of our wells, and the 
whole district was in a state of excitement for several 
weeks. 

I am myself the possessor of a fetish. The most 
important objects in it are two fragments of a human 
skull, of a longish oval shape and dyed with some sort 
of red colouring matter ; they seem to me to be from 



5 2 IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY. 19x4 

the parietal bones. The owner was ill for many months, 
and his wife also, both suffering tortures from sleepless- 
ness. Several times, however, the man heard in a 
dream a voice which revealed to him that they could 
only get well if they took the family fetish he had 
inherited to Mr. Haug, the missionary in N'Gomo, and 
followed Mr. Haug's orders. Mr. Haug referred him 
to me, and made me a present of the fetish. The man 
and his wife stayed with me several weeks for treat- 
ment, and were discharged with their health very much 
improved. 

The belief that magical power dwells in human 
skulls which have been obtained expressly for this 
purpose, must be a quite primitive one. I saw not 
long ago in a medical periodical the assertion that the 
supposed cases of trephining which have often been 
recognised during the excavation and examination of 
prehistoric graves were by no means attempts at 
treatment of tumours on the brain or similar growths, 
as had been assumed, but were simply operations for 
the securing of fetish objects. The author of the 
article is probably right.* 



In the first nine months of my work here I have had 
close on two thousand patients to examine, and I can 
affirm that most European diseases are represented 
here; I even had a child with whooping-cough. 

* In Keith's " Antiquity of Man " (Williams and Norgate, 1915), 
p, 21, is a picture of a prehistoric skull in which there is a hole made 
by trephining, as is shown by the fact that the edges are bevelled 
off. The condition of the bone shows further that the wound had 
healed prior to death. 



CHILLS AND NICOTINE POISONING 53 

Cancer, however, and appendicitis I have never seen. 
Appifently they have not yet reached the negroes of 
Equatorial Africa. On the other hand, chills play a 
great part here. At the teginning of the dry season 
there is as much sneezing and coughing in the church 
at Lambarene as there is in England at a midnight 
sendee on New Year's Eve. Many children die of 
unrecognised pleurisy. 

In the dry season the nights are fresher and colder 
than at other times, and as the negroes have no bed 
clothes they get so cold in their huts that they cannot 
sleep, even though according to European standards 
the temperature is still fairly high. On cold nights the 
thermometer shows at least 68 F., but the damp of the 
atmosphere, which makes people sweat continually by 
day, makes them thereby so sensitive that they shiver 
and freeze by night. White people, too, suffer con- 
tinually from chills and colds in the head, and there is 
much truth in a sentence I came across in a book on 
tropical medicine, though it seemed at the time rather 
paradoxical : " Where the sun is hot, one must be more 
careful than elsewhere to avoid chills." Especially 
fatal to the natives is the camp life on the sandbanks 
when they are out on their summer fishing expeditions. 
Most of the old folk die of pneumonia which they have 
caught on these occasions. 

Rheumatism is commoner here than in Europe, and 
I not infrequently come across cases of gout, though 
the sufferers cannot be said to bring it on by an 
epicurean diet. That they eat too much flesh food 
cannot possibly be alleged, as except for the fish-days in 
summer they live almost exclusively on bananas and 
manioc. 



54 IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

That I should have to treat chronic nicotine poisoning 
out here I should never have believed. At first I 
could not tell what to think of acute constipation which 
was accompanied by nervous disturbances and only 
made worse by aperients, but while treating a black 
Government official who was suffering severely I came 
to see clearly, through observation and questioning, 
that the misuse of tobacco lay at the root of it. The 
man soon got well and the case was much talked of, 
as he had been a sufferer for years and had become 
almost incapable of work. From that time, whenever 
a case of severe constipation came to me, I asked at 
once : " How many pipes a day do you smoke ? " and 
I recognised in a few weeks what mischief nicotine 
produces here. It is among the women that cases of 
nicotine poisoning are most frequent. Joseph explained 
to me that the natives suffer much from insomnia, and 
then smoke all through the night in order to stupefy 
themselves. 

Tobacco comes here from America in the form of 
leaves, seven of which form a head (fete de tabac). It 
is a plant which is frightfully common and also fright- 
fully strong (much stronger than that which is smoked 
by white people), and it largely takes the place of small 
coins : e.g., one leaf, worth about a halfpenny, will buy 
two pineapples, and almost all temporary sendees are 
paid for by means of it. If you have to travel, you 
take for the purchase of food for the crew, not money, 
for that has no value in the forest, but a box of tobacco- 
leaves, and to prevent the men from helping themselves 
to its valuable contents you make it your seat. A 
pipe goes from mouth to mouth during the journey ; 
and anybody who wants to travel fast and will promise 



TEETH. FIRST OPERATION. HIPPOS 55 

his crew an extra two leaves each, is sure to arrive an 
hour or two sooner than he otherwise would 



The teeth also give the natives much trouble. Many 
of my patients suffer from shrinking of the gums 
together with purulent discharges (pyorrhoea) caused by 
accumulations of tartar. Then, in course of time, all 
the teeth get loose and fall out. Strange to say, these 
cases get well more quickly here than in Europe, where 
the complicated treatment often fails to attain its 
object I have obtained successful results from 
regular painting with an alcoholic solution of thymol, 
only the patient has to be careful not to swallow any 
of the liquid, which is, of course, very poisonous. 

It seems to the natives almost incredible that I can 
extract teeth which are not yet loose, but they do not 
all trust the polished forceps ! A chief who was plagued 
with toothache would not submit to their use tUl he 
had gone home again to consult his wives. Presumably 
the family decision was unfavourable, as he did not 
present himself again. On the other hand, some 
request me to tafee all their teeth out and to get them 
new ones from Europe. A few old folk have, through 
the missionaries, actually got some double sets, " made 
by the white people/' and they are now an object of 
much envy. 

Abdominal tumours are very common here with the 
women, 

My hope that I should not need to perform any major 
operation before the medical ward was ready for use 
was disappointed. On August isth I had to operate 
on a case of strangulated hernia which had been brought 



56 IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

in the evening before. The man, whose name was 
Alnda, begged me to operate, for, like all the natives, he 
knew well enough the dangers of his condition. There 
was, in fact, no time to lose, and the instruments were 
brought together as quickly as possible. Mr. Christol 
allowed me to use his boys' bedroom as an operating 
theatre ; my wife undertook to give the anaesthetic, 
and a missionary acted as assistant. Everything went 
off better than we could have expected, but I was 
almost staggered by the quiet confidence with which the 
man placed himself in position on the operating table. 

A military doctor from the interior, who is going to 
Europe on leave, tells me that he envies me the excellent 
assistance I had for my first operation on hernia ! He 
himself, he said, had performed his with one native 
prisoner handing him the instruments and another 
administering the chloroform by guesswork, while each 
time they moved the fetters on their legs rattled ; but 
his regular assistant was ill and there was no one who 
could take his place. 

The aseptic precautions were, naturally, far from 
perfect, but the patient recovered. 

January loth, 1914. I had scarcely finished writing 
the above paragraphs this afternoon when I had to 
hurry off to the landing place. Mrs. Faure, the wife 
of the missionary at N'Gdmo, arrived in a motor boat, 
suffering from a severe attack of malaria, and I had 
scarcely given her a first intramuscular injection of 
quinine when a canoe brought in a young man who 
had had his right thigh broken and badly mutilated by 
a hippopotamus in Lake Sonange. In other respects, 
too, the poor fellow was in a bad condition. He and a 
friend had gone out together to fish, but not far from 



TEETH. FIRST OPERATION. HIPPOS 57 

the landing place of their village a hippopotamus had 
come up unexpectedly and hurled their boat into the 
air. The friend escaped, but my patient was chased 
about in the water by the enraged beast for half an 
hour, though he was able at last to get to shore in spite 
of his broken thigh. I was afraid there would be 
serious blood poisoning, for they had brought him the 
twelve hours' canoe journey with his mutilated thigh 
wrapped in dirty rags. 

I have myself had a meeting with a hippo, but it, 
fortunately, ended well. One autumn evening I was 
called up to visit a planter, and to get to him we had 
to pass a narrow canal about fifty yards long with a 
very strong current. On the journey out we saw two 
hippos in the distance. For the journey home, which 
would be in the dark, for night had fallen, the store 
people advised me to make a detour of a couple of 
hours so as to avoid the canal and the animals, but the 
rowers were so tired that I would not ask them for so 
much extra exertion. We had just got to the entrance 
of the canal when the two hippos came up from a dive 
thirty yards ahead of us, their roar sounding much as if 
children were blowing a trumpet into a watering can, 
only louder. The crew at once drew in close to the bank, 
where the current was least strong, but we advanced 
very slowly, foot by foot, the hippos accompanying us, 
swimming along the other bank. It was a wonderful, 
exciting experience. Some palm tree stems, which had 
got fixed in mid-stream, rose out of the water and 
swayed about like reeds ; on the bank the forest rose 
straight up like a black wall, and an enchanting moon- 
light illuminated the whole scene. The rowers gasped 
with fear and encouraged each other with low calls 



58 IV. JULY, 1913 JAKUARY, 1914 

while the hippos pushed their ugly heads out of the 
water and glared angrily across at us. In a quarter of 
an hour we had got out of the canal and were descending 
the narrow arm of the river, followed by a parting roar 
from the hippos.' I vowed that never in future would 
I be so scrupulous about adding even two hours to a 
journey in order to get out of the way of these interest- 
ing animals, yet I should be sorry not to be able to 
look back on those wonderful minutes, uncomfortable 
though the experience seemed at the time. 



Towards evening on November ist I was again called 
upon to go to N'Gomo. Mrs. Faure had, without think- 
ing, walked a few yards in the open without anything 
on her head, and was now prostrate with severe fever 
and other threatening symptoms. Truly my fellow- 
traveller on the Europe was right when he said 
that the sun was our great enemy. Here are some 
further examples : 

A white man, working in a store, was resting after 
dinner with a ray of sunshine falling on his head through 
a hole in the roof about the size of a half-crown : the 
result was high fever with delirium. 

Another lost his pith helmet when his boat was upset. 
As soon as he got on to the boat, which was floating 
away keel uppermost, he threw himself on his back and, 
anticipating danger, at once took off his coat and his 
shirt to protect his head with them. It was too late, 
however, and he got a bad sunstroke. 

The skipper of a small merchant vessel had to make 
some small repairs to the keel of his craft, which had 
been drawn tip dry on land. While working at them he 



SUNSTROKE AND ITS TREATMENT. THE HOSPITAL 59 

bent his head so far that the sun shone upon his neck 
below his helmet. He, too, was for a time at death's 
door. 

Children, however, are less affected than adults. 
Mrs. Christol's little daughter not long ago ran un- 
observed out of the house and walked about in the sun 
for nearly ten minutes without taking any harm. I am 
now so used to this state of things that I shudder every 
time I see people represented in illustrated papers as 
walking about bareheaded in the open air, and I have 
to reassure myself that even white people can do this 
with impunity in Europe. 

The skipper of the little steamer, who had himself 
been down with sunstroke, had been kind enough to 
offer to fetch me to N'Gomo, and my wife went with me 
to help to nurse the patient. Following the advice of 
an experienced colonial doctor, I treated the sunstroke 
as if it were complicated with malaria, and gave intra- 
muscular injections of a strong solution of quinine. It 
has been proved that sunstroke is especially dangerous 
to people who are already infected with malaria, and 
many doctors even assert that quite half the symptoms 
are to be put down to the malarial attack which is 
brought on by the sunstroke. A further necessity in 
such cases, when the patient can take nothing or brings 
everything up again, is to introduce sufficient fluid into 
the system to avert such injury to the kidneys as might 
endanger life. This is effected best with a pint of dis- 
tilled and sterilised water containing 65 grains (4$ 
grams) of the purest kitchen salt, which is introduced 
under the skin or into a vein in the arm with a cannula, 

On our return from N'Gomo we were agreeably sur- 
prised to hear that the corrugated iron hospital ward 



6o IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

was ready. A fortnight later the internal fitting up 
was practically finished, and Joseph and I left the fowl- 
house and settled in, my wife helping us vigorously. I 
owe hearty thanks for this building to Mr. Kast and 
Mr. Ottmann, the two practical workers of the Mission ; 
the former a Swiss, the latter a native of the Argentine. 
It was a great advantage that we could discuss all 
details together, and that these two were willing to listen 
to the considerations, suggested by my medical know- 
ledge. Hence the building, although it is so plain and 
so small, is extraordinarily convenient : every nook and 
corner is made use of. 

The building has two rooms, each 13 feet square, the 
outer of which serves as consulting room, the inner as 
operating theatre. There are also two small side rooms 
under the very wide projections of the roof : one is the 
dispensary, the other the sterilising room. The floor 
is of cement. The windows are very large and go right 
up to the roof. That prevents any accumulation of 
hot air at the top of the room, and every one is astonished 
to find how cool it is, although corrugated iron buildings 
are always condemned in the tropics as being intoler- 
ably hot. There is no glass in the windows, only fine 
wire netting to keep out mosquitoes, but there are 
wooden shutters outside, which are necessary on account 
of the storms. Along the walls run wide shelves, many 
of them of the rarest woods. We had no common 
boards left, and it would have cost much more to have 
had new ones sawn than to use even the most expensive 
that we had ready, besides throwing the work weeks 
backward. Under the roof white calico is stretched 
tightly as a protection against mosquitoes, which other- 
wise would find their way in through holes; 



SUNSTROKE AND ITS TREATMENT. THE HOSPITAL 61 

During December the waiting-room was got ready 
and a shed for housing the patients. Both buildings 
are constructed like large native huts out of unhewn 
logs and raffia leaves, and I myself, under Mr. Chris- 
tors direction, took part in the work. The patients' 
dormitory measures 42 feet by 19 feet 6 inches. Joseph 
has a large hut to himself. These buildings lie along 
both sides of a path about 30 yards long which leads 
from the iron building to a bay in the river, in which the 
canoes of the patients are moored. The bay is over- 
shadowed by a magnificent mango tree. 

When the roof of the dormitory was ready, I marked 
on the floor of beaten earth with a pointed stick sixteen 
large rectangles, each indicating a bed, with passages 
left between them. Then the patients and their 
attendants, who hitherto had been lodged, so far as 
possible, in a boathouse, were called in. Each patient 
was put into a rectangle, which was to be his sleeping 
place, and their attendants were given axes with which 
to build the bedsteads ; a piece of bast on a peg showed 
the height they were to have. A quarter of an hour 
later canoes were going up and down stream to fetch 
the wood needed, and the beds were ready before 
nightfall. They consist of four short posts ending in 
forks, on which tie two strong side-poles, with shorter 
pieces lying across, the whole bound firmly together 
with creeper stalks. Dried grass serves as a mattress. 

The beds are about 20 inches from the ground, so 
that boxes, cooking utensils, and bananas can be stored 
below, and they are broad enough for two or three 
persons to occupy them at once ; if they do not provide 
room enough, the attendants sleep on the floor. They 
bring their own mosquito nets with them. 



62 IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

There is no separation of the sexes in the big shed ; 
they arrange themselves in their usual way. The only 
thing I insist on is that the healthy shall not take 
possession of a bed while a patient has to sleep on the 
ground. I must soon build some more huts for their 
accommodation, as the one dormitory is not enough. 
I must also have some rooms in which to isolate 
infectious cases, especially the dysentery ones. The 
patients with sleeping sickness, again, I cannot keep 
for any length of time in hospital, as they endanger the 
health of the whole station, and later on I shall build 
a hut for them in a quiet spot on the other side of the 
river. There is plenty of work to do beside the mere 
medical treatment. 



With the hospital building finished, the doctor's 
wife can develop her activity to the full. In the fowl- 
house there was only room for Joseph and myself. 
She shares with me the work of teaching Joseph how 
to clean and handle the instruments and to prepare 
for operations. She also superintends the washing, and it 
takes a great deal of trouble to ensure that the dirty and 
infected bandages are properly cleaned and sufficiently 
boiled. She appears punctually at ten o'clock, and 
stays till twelve, insisting on everything being kept in 
good order. 

To understand what it means when my wife leaves 
her household work to give most of the morning to the 
medical work as well as not a few afternoons to the 
operations, for which she administers the anaesthetics, 
one must know how complicated the simplest style 
of housekeeping is in Africa. This is the result of two 




FIG. 5. THE HOSPITAL AT LAMBARENE. 

Showing corrugated iron buildings and huts, with coffee bushes in the foreground. 



THE DOCTOR'S WIFE AND HER WORK. SERVANTS 63 

causes : first, the strict division of duties among the 
native servants, and, second, their unreliability. We 
have to keep, as is customary, three sen-ants : a boy, 
a cook, and a washerman. To assign the work of the 
last-named to either the boy or the cook, as is often 
done in small households, is impossible in our case, on 
account of the extra washing which comes to the 
house from the hospital. Apart from this, a moderately 
good European maid could do the whole of the work 
quite well by herself. The cook does nothing but the 
cooking, the washerman the washing and ironing, and 
the boy looks after the rooms and the fowls. Each of 
them, as soon as he has finished his own work, goes off 
to rest ! So we have to do ourselves whatever work 
there is which does not belong to either of their strictly 
defined departments. Women servants are not to be 
had out here. Mrs. Christol has as nursemaid for 
her eighteen months old baby girl a native boy of 
fourteen, M'Buru by name. 

Then, again, all one's servants, even the best of them, 
are so unreliable that they must not be exposed to the 
slightest temptation. This means that they must never 
be left alone in the house. All the time they are at 
work there my wife must be there too, and anything 
that might be attractive to their dishonesty must be 
kept locked up* Each morning the cook is given 
exactly what is to be prepared for our meals, so much 
rice, fat, and potato ; in the kitchen he keeps just a 
small supply of salt, flour, and spice, and if he forgets 
anything, my wife will have to go up the hill again to 
the house from the hospital in order to give it out to 
him. 

That one can never leave them alone in a room, 



6 4 IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

that one keeps everything locked up and does not trust 
them with more than the exact amount of foodstuffs, 
is not taken by the black servants as an insult. They 
themselves expect us to observe these precautionary 
measures strictly, in order that they may not be held 
responsible for any occasional theft. Joseph insists on 
my locking the dispensary if I go into the dormitory 
from the iron building for even two minutes, and leave 
him alone in the consulting-room, from which one 
goes into the dispensary. If a European does not 
observe these precautions then his blacks steal his 
things with a good conscience. What is not locked up 
" goes for a walk," to use Joseph's language ; you may 
steal anything from a person who is so careless 1 

Worse still, however, than this, the negro steals not 
'merely what will be of value to him, but anything that 
attracts him for the moment. Mr. Rambaud, of 
Samkita, lost in this way part of a valuable work in 
several volumes, and there disappeared one day from 
my bookshelf the piano edition of Wagner's " Meister- 
singer" and the copy of Bach's Passion Music (S. 
Matthew), into which I had written the organ accom- 
paniment, which I had worked out very carefully ! 
This feeling of never being safe from the stupidest piece 
of theft brings one sometimes almost to despair, and 
to have to keep everything locked up and turn oneself 
into a walking bunch of keys adds a terrible burden to 
life. 



If I went simply by what the blacks ask for, I should 
now have to operate on some one every day ; the people 
with hernia quarrel as to who shall submit to the knife 



OPERATIONS. GRATITUDE OF PATIENTS 65 

first ! However, at present we manage to get off with 
two or three operations a week. For more than this 
my wife would be unable to manage the necessary 
preparations and the cleaning and putting away of the 
instruments afterwards ; nor should I be equal to the 
work. I have often to operate in the afternoon when 
I have been busy till one o'clock or even later with 
bandaging and examination ; and in this land one cannot 
take so much upon one as in a more temperate climate. 
That Joseph can allow himself to collect the vessels 
with blood in them after an operation and to wash the 
instruments, is a sign of very high enlightenment. An 
ordinary negro will touch nothing that is defiled with 
blood or pus, because it would make him unclean in 
the religious sense. In many districts of Equatorial 
Africa it is difficult, or even impossible, to persuade 
the natives to let themselves be operated on, and why 
those on the Ogowe even crowd to us for the purpose 
I do not know. Their readiness is probably connected 
with the fact that some years ago an army doctor, 
Jorryguibert by name, stayed some time with the 
District Commandant at Lambarene, and performed a 
series of successful operations. He sowed, and I am 
reaping. 

Not long'ago I got a rare case of injury to operate on, 
for which many a famous surgeon might envy me. It 
was a case of strangulated hernia which protruded 
tinder the ribs, the so-called lumbar hernia. There 
was every imaginable complication present, and when 
darkness fell I had not finished ; for the final sutures 
Joseph had to hold the lamp for me. But the patient 
recovered. 

Much notice was attracted by an operation on a boy 



66 IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

who for a year and a half had had a piece of necrosed 
bone, as long as his hand, projecting from his leg. below 
the knee. It was a case of osteomyelitis, and the 
pus secreted stank so horribly that no one could stay 
near him for long. The boy himself was reduced to a 
skeleton, but now he is fat and healthy and is beginning 
to walk again. 

Hitherto all my operations have been successful, and 
that raises the confidence of the natives to a pitch that 
almost terrifies me. What impresses them most of all is 
the anaesthetics, and they talk a great deal about them. 
The girls in our school exchange letters with those in a 
Sunday school at home, and in one of them there was 
the following piece of news : " Since the Doctor came 
'here we have seen the most wonderful things happen. 
First of all he kills the sick people ; then he cures them, 
and after that he wakes them up again." For 
anaesthesia seems to the native the same thing as being 
dead, and similarly if one of them wants to make me 
understand that he has had an apoplectic fit, he says : 
" I was dead." 

There are sometimes patients who try to show their 
gratitude. The man who in August was freed from a 
strangulated hernia collected 20 francs among his 
relations, " in order to pay the Doctor for the expensive 
thread with which he sewed up my belly/' 

An uncle of the boy with the sores on his feet, a 
joiner by trade, put in fourteen days' work for me 
making cupboards out of old boxes. 

A black trader offered me his labourers in order that 
the roof of my house might be put in order in good time 
before the rains. 

Another came to see me and *ha^v me for having 



DRUGS AND THEIR COST 67 

come out to help the natives, and when he left me he 
presented me with 20 francs for the medicine chest. 

Another patient presented my wife with a kiboko 
(or sjambok) of hippopotamus hide. It is made in this 
way : When a hippopotamus is killed, its hide, which 
is from J inch to I inch thick, is cut into strips about 
1 1 inches wide and nearly 5 feet long. One end is nailed 
to a board, the strip is twisted into a spiral, and the 
other end is nailed down. When it is dry that supple, 
sharp - cornered, and justly dreaded instrument of 
torture is ready. 



These last few weeks I have been busy stowing away 
the supply of drugs, etc., which arrived in October and 
November. The reserve stock we place in the small 
iron room on the hill, of which I have had the use since 
Mr. Ellenberger went away, and which the grateful 
uncle mentioned above has fitted with the necessary 
cupboards and shelves. It is true that they do not 
look handsome, being put together from cases and 
bearing still the addresses that were painted on them, 
but we have a place for everything : that is the essential 
thing. In Africa we learn not to be too exacting. 

While I was worrying over the cost of these valuable 
supplies of medicines, bandages, and lint, the December 
mail brought me news of fresh gifts which made my 
heart lighter again. How can we thank sufficiently all 
our friends and acquaintances ? By the time anything 
comes to Lambarene it costs about three times its 
European price, and this increase is accounted for by 
the cost of packing, which must be very carefully done, 
of the railway journey, of shipping and unloading, of 



68 IV. JULY, 1913 JANUARY, 1914 

the voyage, of the colonial import duty, of conveyance 
up the river, and allowance for the general losses which 
result from heat or water in the hold or from rough 
handling at the ports. 

Our health continues excellent ; not a trace of fever, 
though we need a few days' rest. 

Just as I close this chapter there arrives at the 
station an old man with leprosy. He and his wife 
have come from the Fernando Vaz lagoon, which lies 
south of Cape Lopez and is connected with Ogowe by 
one of its smaller mouths. The poor creatures have 
rowed themselves 250 miles upstream to visit the 
doctor, and can hardly stand for exhaustion. 



CHAPTER V 

JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

LAMBARENE, End of June, 1914. 

AT the end of January and the beginning of February 
my wife and I were in Talagouga busy looking after Mr. 
Hermann, a missionary, who was suffering from a bad 
attack of boils with high fever, and at the same time 
I treated the sick of the neighbourhood. Among the 
latter was a small boy who, with every sign of extreme 
terror, refused to enter the room, and had to be carried 
in by force. It transpired later that he quite thought 
the doctor meant to kill and eat him ! The poor little 
fellow had got his knowledge of cannibalism, not from 
nursery tales, but from the terrible reality, for even 
to-day it has not been quite extirpated among the 
Pahouins. About the area over which it still prevails 
it is hard to say anything definite, as fear of the heavy 
penalties attached to it make the natives keep every 
case as secret as possible. A short time ago, however, 
a man went from the.neighbourhood of Lambarene into 
some outlying villages to collect arrears of debt, and 
did not come back. A labourer disappeared in the 
same way from near SamMta. People who know the 
country say that " missing " is often to be interpreted 
as " eaten." 

Even the keeping of slaves by natives, though it is 
no longer acknowledged as such, is not yet a thing of the 



70 V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

past, in spite of the war that both Government and 
missions carry on against it. I often notice among 
the attendants of a sick man some whose features are 
not those of any tribe that is settled here or in the 
neighbourhood. But if I ask whether they are slaves, 
I am assured with a rather peculiar smile that they 
are only " servants." The lot of these unacknowledged 
slaves is by no means a hard one. They never have 
to fear ill-treatment, and they never think of escaping 
and putting themselves under the protection of the 
Government. If an inquiry is held, they usually deny 
obstinately that they are slaves, and it often happens 
that after a number of years of slavery they are admitted 
as members of the tribe, thereby becoming free and 
obtaining a right of domicile in a definite place. The 
latter is what they regard as most valuable. 

The reason for the continued secret existence of 
domestic slavery in the district of the lower Ogowe, 
is to be looked for in the food conditions of the interior. 
It is the disastrous lot of Equatorial Africa never to have 
had at any time either fruit-bearing plants or fruit- 
bearing trees. The banana stocks, the manioc, the yam, 
the potato, and the oil palm were introduced from their 
West Indian islands by the Portuguese, who were the 
great benefactors of Equatorial Africa. In the districts 
where these useful products have not been introduced, 
or where they are not well established, permanent 
famine prevails. Then parents sell their children to 
districts lower down stream, in order that these, at any 
rate, may have something to eat. In the tipper course 
of the N'Gounje, a tributary of the Ogowe, there must 
be such a famine district ; it is from there that the 
majority of the domestic slaves on the Ogowe come, 



REMAINS OF CANNIBALISM AND SLAVERY 71 

and I have patients from there who belong to the 
" earth eaters." These are driven by hunger to 
accustom themselves to this practice, and they keep it 
up even when they have a sufficiency of food. 

That the oil palm was imported one can notice 
evidence to-day, for on the river and round, the lakes 
where there are, or once were, villages, there are whole 
woods of oil palms, but when one goes about on the 
main roads into the virgin forest, where there has never 
been a human settlement, there is not one to be seen. 

On our return journey from Talagouga we stayed 
two days in Samkita with Mr. and Mrs. Morel, the 
missionaries from Alsace. Samkita is the leopard 
station, and one of these robbers broke, one night last 
autumn, into Mrs. Morel's fowl-house. On hearing the 
cries of their feathered treasures, her husband hurried 
off to get some one to help, while she kept a look-out 
in the darkness, for they supposed a native had forced 
his way in to steal something for his dinner. Then, 
hearing a noise on the roof, Mrs. Morel went nearer 
in hopes of identifying the intruder. *The latter, 
however, had already vanished in the darkness with 
a mighty spring, and when they opened the door 
twenty-two fowls lay dead on the floor with their 
breasts torn open. It is only the leopard that kills 
in this fashion, his chief object being to get blood to 
drink. His victims were removed, but one of them, 
stuffed with strychnine, was left lying before the door. 
Two hours later the leopard returned and devoured it, 
and while it was writhing in cramp it was shot by 
Mr. Morel. Shortly before our arrival another leopard 
had made his appearance in Samkita, and had devoured 
several goats. 



72 V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

At the house of Mr. Cadier, a missionary, we ate 
monkey flesh for the first time, for Mr. Cadier is a great 
sportsman. With me, on the contrary, the blacks are 
far from pleased, because I use my rifle so little. On 
one of my journeys we passed a cayman, asleep on a 
tree which was growing out of the water, and when I 
merely watched it instead of shooting it the cup of 
their indignation ran over. " Nothing ever happens 
with you," the crew exclaimed through their spokes- 
man. " If we were with Mr. Cadier, he would long ago 
have shot us a couple of monkeys and some birds so 
that we could have some meat. But you pass close by 
a cayman and never even touch your shooter ! " I 
willingly put up with the reproach. Birds which circle 
above the water I never like shooting ; monkeys are 
perfectly safe from my weapon* One can often bring 
down or wound three or four in succession and yet 
never secure their bodies. They get caught among the 
thick branches or fall into the undergrowth which 
covers an impenetrable swamp ; and if one finds the 
body, one often finds also a poor little baby monkey, 
which clings, with lamentations, to its dying mother. 
My chief reason for keeping a gun is to be able to shoot 
snakes, which swarm on the grass around my house, 
and the birds of prey which plunder the nests of the 
weaver bird in the palm trees in front of it. 

On our return journey we met a herd of fifteen 
hippos, who soon plunged into the water on our 
approach, but a quite young one remained amusing 
itself on the sandbank, and would not obey its mother 
when she called to it. 



NEGRO IDEAS OF LAW AND RIGHT 73 

During our absence Joseph had carried out his duties 
very well, and had treated the surgical cases with 
intelligence. On his own initiative he had dressed the 
festering stump of a man's arm with a solution of 
hydrogen peroxide, which he had to make from biborate 
of sodium ! 

The young man who had been mauled by the hippo 
I found in a very bad state. My three weeks' absence 
had prevented me from operating at the right time, 
and he died during the amputation of his leg, which I 
now hastily undertook. As he drew his last breaths 
his brother began to look angrily at the companion 
who had gone with him on the fatal expedition, and had 
come to the station to help to look after him. He 
spoke to him also in a low voice, and as the body 
became cold there began an excited duel of words 
between them. Joseph drew me aside and expkined 
what it meant. N'Kendju, the companion, had been 
with the dead man on the expedition, and they had, 
in fact, gone on his invitation. He was, therefore, 
according to native law, responsible for him, and 
could be called to account. That was why he had had 
to leave his village to stay all these weeks by his 
friend's bedside, and now that they were taking the 
dead man back to his village he was expected to go 
with them, that the case against him might be settled 
at once. He did not want to go, however, as he knew 
that it would mean death. I told the brother that I 
regarded N'Kendju as being now in my service, and 
that I would not let him go, which led to an angry 
altercation between him and myself while the body 
was being placed in the canoe, where the mother and 
the aunts began the funeral lamentations. He asserted 



74 V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

that N'Kendju would not be put to death, but would 
only have to pay a fine. Joseph, however, assured me 
that no reliance could be placed on such statements, 
and I felt obliged to remain at the river side till they 
started, as they would otherwise, no doubt, have 
dragged N'Kendju into the canoe by force. 

My wife was troubled that while the patient was 
breathing his last his brother showed no sign of grief, 
and was thinking only of the putting into force of the 
legal rights, and she expressed herself angrily about 
his want of feeling. But in that she was no doubt 
wronging him. He was only fulfilling a sacred duty 
in beginning at once to take care that the person who, 
from his point of view, was responsible for his brother's 
death, did not escape the penalty due to him. For to 
a negro it is imthinkable that any such act should 
remain unatoned for, a point of view which is thoroughly 
Hegelian ! For him the legal side of an event is always 
the important one, and a large part of his time is spent 
in discussing legal cases.* The most hardened litigant 
in Europe is but a child compared to the negro, and 
yet it is not the mere love of litigation that is the latter's 
motive ; it is an unspoilt sense of justice, such as is, 
on the whole, no longer felt by Europeans. I was 
getting ready one day to tap an old Pahouin who was 

* "No other race on a similar level of culture has developed as 
strict methods of legal procedure as has the negro. Many of his 
legal forms remind ns strongly of those of mediaeval Europe/* 
(Prof. Boas in " Tte Ethnical Record" March, 1904, p. 107.) 

" Everywhere in Africa where the life of the people has not been 
disturbed by outside influences, the people are governed by law. 
There is law relating to property, to morality, to the protection of life, 
in fact, in many portions of Africa law is more strictly regarded than 
in many civilised countries/* (Booktr Washington : " The Story 
ofth* Xegro," Vol. L, p. 70.) 



NEGRO IDEAS OF LAW AND RIGHT 75 

suffering badly from abdominal dropsy, when he said 
to me : " Doctor, see that all the water runs ofi as 
soon as possible, so that I can breathe and get about 
again. My wife has deserted me because my body 
has got so big, and I must go and press for the return 
of the money I paid for her at the wedding/ 1 On 
another occasion a child was brought to me in a most 
miserable condition; its right leg had an open sore 
along it right up to the hip. " Why didn't you come 
before ? " " Doctor, we couldn't ; there was a palaver 
to finish." A palaver means any sort of quarrel 
which is brought up for a legal settlement, and the 
little ones are discussed in the same detail and with the 
same earnestness as the big ones, A dispute involving 
a single fowl will keep the village elders employed for a 
whole afternoon. Every negro is a law expert. 

The legal side of life is extremely complicated with 
them, because the limits of responsibility are, according 
to our notions, very wide indeed. For a negro's debts 
the whole of his family, down to the remotest degree 
of relationship, is responsible. Similarly the penalties 
are extraordinarily severe. If a man has used another's 
canoe illegally for a single day, he must pay the third 
of its value as a fine. 

Together with this unspoilt sense of justice goes 
the fact that the native accepts the punishment as 
something obvious and needing no defence, even when 
it is, according to our notions, much too severe. If he 
did not get punished for an offence, his only conclusion 
would be that his victims were remarkably foolish. 
Yet the lightest sentence, if unjust, rouses him to great 
indignation ; he never forgives it, and he recognises 
the penalty as just only if he is really convicted and 



7 6 V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

obliged to confess. So long as he can lie with the 
slightest plausibility, he inveighs against his condemna- 
tion with most honourable-seeming indignation, even 
if he is actually guilty. This is a feature in primitive 
man which every one who has to do with him must 
take into account. 

That N'Kendju ought to pay some compensation 
to the family of his companion on the unfortunate 
fishing expedition is obvious, even though he was only 
so very indirectly responsible for the other's death. 
But they must get the case against him settled in 
orderly fashion in the District Court at Lambarene. 



I am always able to rely on Joseph. True, he 
can neither read nor write, but in spite of that he 
never makes a mistake when he has to get a medicine 
down from the shelf. He remembers the look of the 
words on the label, and reads this, without knowing 
the individual letters. His memory is magnificent, and 
his capacity for languages remarkable. He knows well 
eight negro dialects, and speaks fairly well both French 
and English. He is at present a single man, as his 
wife left him, when he was a cook down on the coast, 
to go and live with a white man. The purchase price 
of a new life companion would be about 600 francs 
(24), but the money can be paid in instalments, 
Joseph, however, has no mind to take another wife 
under these conditions, for he thinks they are an 
abomination. " If one of us," he said to me, " has not 
completely paid for his wife, his life is most uncomfort- 
able. His wife does not obey him, and whenever an 
opportunity offers she taunts him with having no right 




FIG. 6. JOSEPH, THE HOSPITAL ASSISTANT, BANDAGING SORES IN 
. ' FRONT OF THE HOSPITAL. 




FIGi -.NEGRO CHILD WITH ABDOMINAL DROPSY. 



GREAT ACCESS OF PATIENTS 77 

to say anything to her, because she has not yet been 
paid for." 

As Joseph does not understand how to save any 
better than the other natives, I have bestowed en him 
a money-box in which to save up for the purchase of a 
wife. Into this goes all his extra pay for sitting up 
at night or other special services, and all the tips he 
gets from white patients. How extravagant the " first 
assistant of the doctor in Lambarene " (as he calls 
himself) can be, I experienced about this time. He 
was with me at a store, and while I was buying some 
nails and screws his eye was caught by a pair of patent 
leather shoes which, from standing a long time in a 
Paris shop window, had got sun-dried and rotten, and 
had then, like many other odds and ends, found their 
way to Africa. Although they cost nearly as much as 
the amount of his monthly wages, he meant to buy 
them, and warning looks from me were useless, as were 
also a couple of digs in the ribs which I gave him 
quietly while we were standing at the counter among a 
crowd of staring negroes, I could not venture openly 
to dissuade him, as it^would have ofEended the dealer, 
who was thankful to get rid of the shoes. So at last I 
pinched him unperceived as hard as I could just above 
the back of his thigh till he could stand the pain no 
longer, and the transaction was broken off. In the 
canoe I gave him a long lecture on his childish taste 
for extravagance, with the result that the very next 
day he went to the store again on the quiet and bought 
the shoes ! Quite half of what he earns from me he 
spends in clothes, shoes, ties, and sugar. He dresses 
much more elegantly than I do. 
All through the last few months the work has been 



73 V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 19x4 

steadily growing. Our hospital is splendidly situated. 
Upstream and downstream, from places hundreds of 
kilometres away on the Ogowe and its tributaries, sick 
people are brought here, and the fact that those who 
bring them can be lodged here is a further encourage- 
ment to come in great numbers. And there is yet 
another attraction : the fact that I am always at home, 
unless and this has happened only two or three times 
so far I have to go to some other mission station to 
treat a missionary who is ill, or some member of his 
family. Thus the native who has undertaken the 
trouble and the expense of the journey here from 
a distance, is sure of seeing me. That is the great 
advantage which the independent doctor has over one 
appointed by the Government. The latter is ordered 
now here, now there, by the authorities, or has to spend 
a long time with a military column on the march. 
" And that you have not got to waste so much time on 
correspondence, reports, and statistics, as we have to, 
is also an advantage, the reality of which you have not 
yet grasped/' said an army doctor not long ago, during 
a short chat with me on his way past. 



Tlie hut for the sleeping sickness victims is now in 
course of erection on the opposite bank, and costs me 
much money and time. When I am not myself 
superintending the labourers whom we have secured 
for grubbing up the vegetation and building the hut, 
nothing is done. For whole afternoons I have to 
neglect the sick to play the part of foreman there, 

Sleeping sickness prevails more widely here than I 
suspected at first. The chief focus of infection is in the 



SLEEPING SICKNESS 79 

N'Gounje district, the N'Gounje being a tributary of 
the Ogowe about ninety miles from here, but there 
are isolated centres round Lambarene and on the lakes 
behind N'Gomo. 

What is the sleeping sickness ? How is it spread ? 
It seems to have existed in Equatorial Africa from time 
immemorial, but it was confined to particular centres, 
since there was little or no travelling. The native 
method of trade with the sea coast was for each tribe 
to convey the goods to the boundary of its territory, 
and there to hand them over to the traders of the 
adjoining one. From my window I can see the place 
where the N'Gounje enters the Ogowe, and so far only 
might the Galoas living round Lambarene travel. 
Any one who went beyond this point, further into the 
interior, was eaten. 

When the Europeans came, the natives who served 
them as boats 1 crews, or as carriers in their caravans, 
moved with them from one district to another, and if 
any of them had the sleeping sickness they took it 
to fresh places. In the early days it was unknown on 
the Ogowe, and it was introduced about thirty years 
ago by carriers from Loango. Whenever it gets into 
a new district it is terribly destructive, and may carry 
off a third of the population. In Uganda, for example, 
it reduced the number of inhabitants in six years from 
300,000 to 100,000, An officer told me that he once 
visited a village on the Upper Ogowe which had two 
thousand inhabitants. On passing it again two years 
later he could only count five hundred ; the rest had 
died meanwhile of sleeping sickness. After some time 
the disease loses its virulence, for reasons that we 
cannot as yet explain, though it continues to carry ofi 



So V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

a regular, if small, number of victims, and then it may 
begin to rage again as destructively as before. 

The first symptom consists of irregular attacks of 
fever, sometimes light, sometimes severe, and these 
may come and go for months without the sufferer feeling 
himself really ill. There are victims who enter the 
sleep stage straight from this condition of apparent 
health, but usually severe headaches come during the 
fever stage. Many a patient have I had come to me 
crying out : " Oh, doctor ! my head, my head ! I 
can't stand it any longer ; let me die ! " Again, the 
steep stage is sometimes preceded by torturing sleepless- 
ness, and there are patients who at this stage get 
mentally deranged ; some become melancholy, others 
delirious. One of my fiist patients was a young man 
who was brought because he wanted to commit suicide. 

As a rule, rheumatism sets in with the fever. A 
white man came to me once from the N'G6m6 lake 
district suffering from sciatica. On careful examina- 
tion, I saw it was the beginning of the sleeping sickness, 
and I sent him at once to the Pasteur Institute at Paris, 
where French sufferers are treated. Often, again, an 
annoying loss of memory is experienced, and this is 
not infrequently the first symptom which is noticed 
by those around them. Sooner or later, however, 
though it may be two or three years after the first 
attacks of fever, the sleep sets in. At first it is only 
an urgent need of sleep; the sufferer falls asleep 
whenever he sits down and is quiet, or just after 



A short time ago a white non-commissioned officer 
from Mouila, which is six days' journey from here, 
visited me because, while cleaning his revolver, he had 



SLEEPING SICKNESS 81 



put a bullet through his hand. He stayed at the 
Catholic mission station, and his black boy accom- 
panied him whenever he came to have his hand dressed, 
and waited outside. When the N.C.O. was ready to 
go, there was almost always much shouting and 
searching for his attendant, till at last, with sleepy 
looks, the latter emerged from some corner. His 
master complained that he had already lost him several 
times because, wherever he happened to be, he was 
always taking a long nap. I examined his blood and 
discovered that he had the sleeping sickness. 

Towards the finish the sleep becomes sounder and 
passes at last into coma. Then the sick man lies 
without either feeling or perception; his natural 
motions take place without his being conscious of them, 
and he gets continually thinner. Meanwhile his back 
and sides get covered with bed-sores ; his knees are 
gradually drawn up to his neck, and he is altogether 
a horrible sight. Release by death has, however, 
often to be awaited for a long time, and sometimes 
there is even a lengthy spell of improved health. Last 
December I was treating a. case which had reached this 
final stage, and at the end of four weeks the relatives 
hurried home with him that, at least, he might die in 
his own village. I myself expected the end to come 
almost at once, but a few days ago I got the news that 
he had recovered so far as to eat and speak and sit up, 
and had only died in April. The immediate cause of 
death is usually pneumonia. 

Knowledge of the real nature of sleeping sickness is 
one of the latest victories of medicine, and is connected 
with the names of Ford, Castellani, Bruce, Dutton, 
Koch, Martin, and Leboeul The first description of 



82 V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

it was given in 1803 from cases observed among the 
natives of Sierra Leone, and it was afterwards studied 
also in negroes who had been taken from Africa to the 
Antilles and to Martinique. It was only in the 'sixties 
that extensive observations were begun in Africa itself, 
and these first led to a closer description of the last 
phase of the disease, no one even suspecting a preceding 
stage or that there was any connection between the 
disease and the long period of feverishness. This was 
only made possible by the discovery that both these 
forms of sickness had the same producing cause. 

Then in 1901 the English doctors, Ford and Dutton, 
found, on examining with the microscope the blood of 
fever patients in Gambia, not the malaria parasites they 
expected, but small, active creatures which on account 
of their form they compared to gimlets, and named 
Trypanosomata, i.e., boring-bodies. Two years later 
the leaders of the English expedition for the investiga- 
tion of sleeping sickness in the Uganda district found 
in the blood of a whole series of patients similar little 
active creatures. Being acquainted with what Ford 
and Dutton had published on the subject, they asked 
whether these were not identical with those found in 
the fever patients from the Gambia region, and at the 
same time, on examination of their own fever patients, 
they found the fever to be due to the same cause as 
produced the sleeping sickness. Thus it was proved 
that the " Gambia fever " was only an early stage of 
sleeping sickness. 

The sleeping sickness is most commonly conveyed by 
the Glossina palpatis, a species of tsetse fly which flies 
only by day. If this fly has once bitten any one with 
sleeping sickness, it can cany the disease to others for i 



SLEEPING SICKNESS 83 

long time, perhaps for the rest of its life, for the trypano- 
somes which entered it in the blood it sucked live and 
increase and pass in its saliva into the blood of any one 
it bites. 

Still closer study of sleeping sickness revealed the fact 
that it can be also conveyed by mosquitoes, if these 
insects take their fill of blood from a healthy person 
immediately after they have bitten any one with sleeping 
sickness, as they will then have trypanosomes in their 
saliva. Thus the mosquito army continues by night 
the work which the glossina is carrying on all day. 
Poor Africa ! * 

In its essential nature sleeping sickness is a chronic 
inflammation of the meninges and the brain, one, how- 
ever, which always ends in death, and this ensues be- 
cause the trypanosomes pass from the blood into the 
cerebro-spinal fluid. To fight the disease successfully 
it is necessary to kill them before they have passed from 
the blood, since it is only in the blood that atoxyl,f one 
weapon that we at present possess, produces effects 
which can to any extent be relied on ; in the cerebro- 
spinal marrow the trypanosomes are comparatively safe 
from it. A doctor must, therefore, learn to recognise 
the disease in the early stage, when it first produces 
fever. If he can do that, there is a prospect of recovery. 

In a district, therefore, where sleeping sickness has to 
be treated, its diagnosis is a terribly complicated busi- 
ness because the significance of every attack of fever, of 

* I must, however, in justice add that the mosquito does not 
harbour the trypanosomes permanently, and that its saliva is 
poisonous only for a short time after it has been polluted by the 
blood of a sleeping sickness victim. 

f Atoxyl (meta-arsenic anilid) is ft compound of usenic with an 
Aniline product. 



84 V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

every persistent headache, of every prolonged attack 
of sleeplessness, and of all rheumatic pains must be 
gauged with the help of the microscope. Moreover, 
this examination of the blood is, unfortunately, by no 
means simple, but takes a great deal of time, for it is 
only very seldom that these pale, thin parasites, about 
one eighteen-thousandth ( ls fto ) of a millimetre long, 
are to be found in any considerable number in the 
blood. So far I have only examined one case in which 
three or four were to be seen together. Even when the 
disease is certainly present one can, as a rule, examine 
several drops of blood one after another before dis- 
covering a single trypanosome, and to scrutinise each 
drop properly needs at least ten minutes. I may, 
therefore, spend an hour over the blood of a suspected 
victim, examining four or five drops without finding 
anything, and even then have no right to say there is 
no disease ; there is still a long and tedious testing pro- 
cess which must be applied. This consists in taking 
ten cubic centimetres of blood from a vein in one of the 
sufferer's arms, and keeping it revolving centrifugally 
for an hour according to certain prescribed rules, at the 
same time pouring of! at intervals the outer rings of 
blood. The trypanosomes are expected to have 
collected into the last few drops, and these are put 
under the microscope ; but even if there is again a nega- 
tive result, it is not safe to say that the disease is not 
present. If there are no trypanosomes to-day, I may 
find them ten days hence, and if I have discovered some 
to-day, there may be none in three days' time and for a 
considerable period after that. A white official, whose 
blood I had proved to contain trypanosomes, was 
subsequently kept under observation for weeks, in 



SLEEPING SICKNESS 85 

Libreville, without any being discovered, and it was 
only in the Sleeping Sickness Institute at Brazzaville 
that they were a second time proved to be there. 

If, then, I wish to treat such patients conscientiously, 
a couple of them together can tie me for a whole morn- 
ing to the microscope, while outside there are sitting a 
score of sick people who want to be seen before dinner- 
time ! There are also surgical patients whose dressings 
must be renewed ; water must be distilled, and medi- 
cines prepared ; sores must be cleansed, and there are 
teeth to be drawn ! With this continual drive, and the 
impatience of the waiting sick, I often get so worried 
and nervous that I hardly know where I am or what I 
am doing. 

Atoxyl is a frightfully dangerous drug. If the solu- 
tion is left for some time in the light it decomposes, 
just like salvarsan, and works as a poison, but even if 
it is prepared faultlessly and is in perfect condition, it 
may cause blindness by injuring the nerves of sight. 
Nor does this depend on the size of the dose ; small 
ones are often more dangerous than large ones, and they 
are never of any use. If one begins with too small a dose, 
in order to see whether the patient can take the drug, the 
trypanosomes get inured to it ; they become " atoxyl- 
proof," as it is called, and then can d^fy the strongest 
doses. Every five days my sleeping sick come to me 
for an injection, and before I begin I always ask in 
trepidation whether any gl them have noticed that their 
sight is not as good as usual. Happily, I have so far 
only one case of blinding to record, and that was a man 
in whom the disease had already reached a very 
advanced stage. Sleeping sickness now prevails from 
the east coast of Africa right to the west, and from the 



86 V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

Niger in the north-west to the Zambesi in the south- 
east. Shall we now conquer it ? A systematic cam- 
paign against it over this wide district would need many 
doctors and the cost would be enormous. . . , Yet, 
where death already stalks about as conqueror, the 
European States provide in most niggardly fashion the 
means of stopping it, and merely undertake stupid 
defensive measures which only give it a chance of 
reaping a fresh harvest in Europe itself. 



After the sleeping sickness it is the treatment of sores 
and ulcers which takes up most time. They are far 
more common here than in Europe one in four of the 
children in our school has a permanent sore. What is 
the cause ? 

Many sores are caused by sandfleas (Rynchoprion 
penetrans), a species much smaller than the common 
flea. The female bores into the tenderest part of the 
toe, preferably under the nail, and grows under the skin 
to the size of a small lentil. The removal of the insect 
causes a small wound, and if this gets infected through 
dirt, there sets in a kind of gangrene, which causes the 
loss of a joint, or even of a whole toe. Negroes with ten 
complete toes are almost rarer than those who have 
one or more mutilated. 

It is an interesting fact that the sandfiea, which is 
now a regular plague to Central Africa, is not indigenous 
there, but was brought over from South America as late 
as 1872. In ten years from that time it had spread all 
over the Dark Continent from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific. In East Africa it is known as the " Jigger." 
One of the worst species of ants which we have here, the 



SANDFLEAS, CRAWCRAW, RASPBERRY DISEASE, ETC. 87 

sangunagenta, is also an importation, having come over 
in cases of goods brought from South America. 

Besides the sores caused by the sandflea we have the 
so-called crawcraw. These generally occur several 
together, most commonly on the foot and leg, and are 
frightfully painful, but the cause of them we do not yet 
know. The treatment consists in cleaning out the sore 
with a plug of cotton-wool till it bleeds naturally, when 
it is washed out with mercuric chloride and filled with 
boracic powder. It is thsn bandaged and left to itself 
for ten days. 

Another kind of sore is that of the so-called raspberry 
disease (framb&sia), which may attack any part of the 
body. The name was given because it shows itself first 
in largish pustules, covered with a yellow crust, the 
removal of which reveals a slightly bleeding surface 
which looks exactly like a raspberry stuck on the skin. 
There was brought to me once an infant which had got 
infected through contact with its mother's breast, and 
looked exactly as if it had been first painted over with 
some viscous substance and then stuck all over with 
raspberries. These pustules may disappear, but for 
years afterwards surface sores occur in the most varied 
parts of the body. 

This disease, which is common in all tropical countries, 
is very infectious, and almost all the negroes here have 
it at some time or other. The old treatment consisted 
in dabbing the sore with a solution of sulphate of copper 
(cupri sulphas) and giving the patient every day two 
grammes of iodide of potassium (pofassii iodidum) in 
water. It has recently been proved that arseno-benzol 
injected into the veins of the arm effects a speedy and 
permanent cure ; the sores disappear as if by magic. 



SS V. JANUARY TO JU^E, 1*14 

The worst sores of all are the tropical eating sores 
(tilctts pkagedenicum tropicum), which spread in all 
directions. Not infrequently the whole leg surface is 
one single sore, in which the sinews and bones show like 
white islands. The pain is frightful, and the smell is 
such that no one can stay near the patient for any 
length of time. The sufferers are placed in a hut by 
themselves, and have their food brought to them ; there 
they gradually waste away and die after terrible 
sufferings. This most horrible of all the different sores 
is very common on the Ogowe, and merely to disinfect 
and i>andage does no good. The sufferer must be put 
under an anaesthetic and the sore carefully scraped right 
down to the sound tissue, during which operation blood 
flows in streams. The sore is then bathed with a 
solution of permanganate of potash, but a careful 
inspection must be made every day so as to detect any 
new purulent centre that may show itself, as this must 
at once be scraped out like the others. It is weeks, 
perhaps months, before the sore is healed, and it will 
use up half a case of bandages. What a sum it costs 
us, too, to feed the patient for so long ! But what joy 
when limping, indeed, for the healed wounds leave 
the foot permanently deformed, but rejoicing at his 
freedom from the old pain and stench he steps into 
the canoe for the journey home I 

* 

* * 

The lepers are another class of sick people who give 
one much trouble. This disease is caused by a bacillus 
which is closely allied to that of tuberculosis, and this 
was discovered in 1871 by a Norwegian doctor, Hansen 
by name* Isolation, which is always insisted on where 




FIG . S. PAHOUIN BOYS FROM LAMBARENE. 



LEPROSY, MALARIA, DV5EXTERY 89 

possible, is not to be thought of here, and I often have 
four or five lepers among the other sick folk in the 
hospital. The most remarkable fact about it is that 
we have to assume that the infection passes from one 
individual to another, although no one has yet dis- 
covered how it does so, or succeeded in producing 
infection experimentally. The only drug we have at 
our disposal for fighting this disease is the so-called 
Chaulmoogra oil (oleum gynocardia), which is obtained 
from the seed of a tree in Further India. It is expen- 
sive, and usually comes into the market adulterated, 
I obtain what I want through a retired missionary, 
Mr. Delord, a native of French Switzerland, who had 
a great deal to do with leprosy when he worked in New 
Caledonia, and can get supplies direct from a reliable 
source. Following a hint from him I administer the 
nauseous drug in a mixture of sesame and earth-nut 
oils (huilff d'arackides), which makes it more tolerable 
for taking. Recently the administration of Chaul- 
moogra oil by subcutaneous injection has also been 
recommended. 

A real cure of leprosy is beyond our powers, but a 
great improvement in a patient's health can be effected, 
and the disease can be reduced to a state of quiescence 
which lasts so long that it is practically equivalent to 
a cure. The attempts which have been made in recent 
years to cure the disease by means of a serum prepared 
from the bacillus that causes it, and known under the 
name of Nastin, allow us to hope that some day we shall 
be able to fight it effectively in this way. 

With swamp fever, or tropical malaria, I have, 
unfortunately, like every other doctor in the tropics, 
plenty to do. To the natives it is merely natural that 



90 V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

every one of them should from time to time have fever 
with shivering fits, but children are the worst sufferers. 
As a result of this fever the spleen, as is well known, 
swells and becomes hard and painful, but with them it 
sometimes projects into the body like a hard stone from 
under the left ribs, not seldom reaching as far as the navel. 
If I place one of these children on the table to examine 
him, he instinctively covers the region of the spleen 
with his arms and hands for fear I should inadvertently 
touch the painful stone. The negro who has malaria 
is a poor, broken-down creature who is always tired and 
constantly plagued with headache, and finds even light 
work a heavy task. Chronic malaria is known to be 
always accompanied by anaemia. The drugs available 
for its treatment are arsenic and quinine, and our cook, 
our washerman, and our boy each take 7 to 8 grains 
(half a gram) of the latter twice a week. There is 
a preparation of arsenic called "Arrhenal," which 
enormously enhances the effect of the quinine, and I give 
it freely to white and black alike in subcutaneous 
injections. 

Among the plagues of Africa tropical dysentery must 
not be forgotten. This disease, also, is caused by a 
special kind of amoeba, which settles in the large 
intestine and injures the membrane. The pain is 
dreadful, and day and night alike, without inter- 
mission, the sufierer is constantly wanting to empty the 
bowels, and yet passes nothiixg but blood. Formerly 
the treatment of this dysentery, which is very common 
here, was a tedious process and not really very success- 
ful. The drug used was powdered ipecacuanha root, 
but it could seldom be administered in sufficient 
quantities to act effectively, because when taken 



LEPROSY, MALARIA, DYSENTERY 91 

through the mouth it caused vomiting. For some 
years, however, use has been made of a preparation of 
the essential principle contained in this root, under 
the title of emetin (emetinum hydrochloricwn). Six to 
eight cubic centimetres of a i per cent, solution of this 
is injected subcutaneously for several days in succession, 
and this is followed at once by a great improvement and 
usually by a permanent cure ; in fact, the results 
attained border on the miraculous. There is no need 
for care about diet ; the patient can eat what he likes 
hippopotamus steak, 'if he is black ; potato salad, if he 
is white! If a doctor could effect no cures in the tropics 
beyond what these newly-discovered means of healing, 
arseno-benzol and emetin, make possible, it would still 
be worth his while to come out here. At the fact that 
a great part of the labour entailed upon a doctor in the 
tropics consists in combating various diseases, each 
one more loathsome than the last, which have been 
brought to these children of nature by Europeans, I 
can here only hint. But what an amount of misery is 
hidden behind the hint I 



As to operations, one undertakes, naturally, in the 
forest only such as are urgent and which promise a 
successful result. The one I have had to perform 
oftenest is that for hernia, a thing which afflicts the 
negroes of Central Africa much more than it does white 
people, though why this should be so we do not know. 
They also suffer much oftener than white people from 
strangulated hernia, in which the intestine becomes 
constricted and blocked, so that it can no longer empty 
itself. It then becomes enormously inflated by the 



03 V. JANUARY TO JUNE, 1914 

gases which form, and this causes terrible pain. Then 
after several days of torture death takes place, unless 
the intestine can be got back through the rupture into 
the abdomen. Our ancestors were well acquainted with 
this terrible method of dying, but we no longer see it in 
Europe because every case is operated upon as soon 
as ever it is recognised. " Let not the sun go down 
upon your strangulated hernia/' is the maxim con- 
tinually impressed upon medical students. But in 
Africa this terrible death is quite common. There are 
few negroes who have not as boys seen some man 
rolling in the sand of his hut and howling with agony 
till death came to release him. So now, the moment a 
man feels that his rupture is a strangulated one 
rupture is far rarer among women he begs his friends 
to put him in a canoe and bring him to me. 

How can I describe my feelings when a poor fellow 
is brought me in this condition ? I am the only person 
within hundreds of miles who can help him. Because 
I am here and am supplied by my friends with the 
necessary means, he can be saved, like those who came 
before him in the same condition and those who will 
come after him, while otherwise he would have fallen a 
victim to the torture. This does not mean merely 
that I can save his life. We must all die. But that 
I can save him from days of torture, that is what I feel 
as my great and ever new privilege. Pain is a more 
terrible lord of mankind than even death himself. 

So, when the poor, moaning creature comes, I lay 
my hand on his forehead and say to him : " Don't be 
afraid ! In an hour's time you shall be put to sleep, 
and when you wake you won't feel any more pain." 
Very soon he is given an injection of omnipon ; the 



OPERATIONS 93 

doctor's wife is called to the hospital, and, with Joseph'* 
help, makes everything ready for the operation. When 
that is to begin she administers the anaesthetic, and 
Joseph, in a long pair of rubber gloves, acts as assistant. 
The operation is finished, and in the hardly lighted 
dormitory I watch for the sick man's awaking. Scarcely 
has he recovered consciousness when he stares about 
him and ejaculates again and again : " I've no more 
pain ! I've no more pain ! " . . . His hand feels for 
mine and will not let it go. Then I begin to tell him 
and the others who are in the room that it is the Lord 
Jesus who has told the doctor and his wife to come to 
the Ogowe, and that white people in Europe give them 
the money to live here and cure the sick negroes. Then 
I have to answer questions as to who these white people 
are, where they live, and how they know that the 
natives suffer so much from sickness. The African 
sun is shining through the coffee bushes into the dark 
shed, but we, black and white, sit side by side and feel 
that we know by experience the meaning of the words : 
" And all ye are brethren " (Matt, xxni. 8). Would 
that my generous friends in Europe could come out 
here and live through one such hour I 



CHAPTER VI 

LUMBERMEN AND RAFTSMEN IN THE 
PRIMEVAL FOREST 

CAPE LOPEZ, July 2$th-2gth, 1914. 

AN abscess, for the opening of which the help of the 
military doctor at Cape Lopez seemed to be necessary, 
compelled me about this time to go down to the coast, 
but we had scarcely got there when it fortunately 
burst, and the risk of further complications was avoided. 
My wife and I were kindly entertained at the house of 
a factory employee called Fourier, whose wife had 
spent two months that summer at Lambarene, awaiting 
her confinement at our house. Monsieur Fourier is a 
grandson of the French philosopher Fourier (1772 
1837), in whose social theories I was much interested 
when a student in Paris. Now one of his great- 
grandchildren has entered the world under our roof ! 

I cannot yet move about, so spend the whole day in 
an armchair on the verandah with my wife, looking 
out over the sea and inhaling with enjoyment the fresh 
sea breezes. That there is a breeze at all is a delight 
to us, for in Lambarene there is never any wind except 
during the short storms, which are known as tornadoes. 
,This time of leisure I will employ in writing something 
about the life of the lumbermen and the raftsmen on 
the Ogowe. 



THE CHOICE OF A SITE FOR WORK 95 

It was only about thirty years ago that attempts 
were first made to exploit the great forests of 
West and Equatorial Africa, but the work is not as 
easy as might be thought. Magnificent timber is there 
in any quantity, but how fell and transport it ? At 
present the only timber on the Ogowe that has any 
commercial value is that which is near the river. The 
most magnificent tree a kilometre from the water is 
safe from the axe, for what is the good of felling it if 
it cannot be taken away ? 

Why not build light railways, then, to convey the 
logs to the water ? That question will be asked only 
by those who do not know what a forest in Equatorial 
Africa is like. The ground on which it stands is nothing 
but a mass of gigantic roots and swamp. To prepare 
the ground for even 200 or 300 yards of light railway 
means cutting down the trees, getting rid of their 
roots, and filling up the swamp ; and that would cost 
more than a hundred tons of the finest timber would 
fetch at Cape Lopez. It is, therefore, only at the most 
favourable spots that light railways can be built cheaply 
enough. In these forests one learns how impotent 
man is when pitted against Nature ! 

Work, then, has, as a rule, to be carried on in a 
primitive way, and this for the further reason, also, 
that only primitive men can be got for labourers, and 
not a sufficient number even of them. The introduction 
of Annamites and Chinese has been talked of, but it is a 
hopeless proposal. Foreigners are of no use in the 
African forest, because they cannot endure the heat 
and the camp life in it, and, moreover, cannot live on 
the foods produced locally. 

The first thing to be done is to choose the right plac^ 



96 VI. LUMBERMEN AND RAFTSMEN 

for work. In the virgin forest the trees grow in the 
most capricious fashion, and it pays to fell them only 
where there is near the water's edge a considerable 
number of the kind of trees required. These places are 
generally some distance within the forest, but when 
the river is high, are usually connected with the latter 
by some narrow watercourse, or by a pond, which at 
such times becomes a lake. The natives know well 
enough where these places are, but they keep the 
knowledge to themselves, and make a point of mislead- 
ing any white man who comes into their neighbourhood 
to look for them. One European told me that the 
natives of a certain village kept taking from him lor 
two months liberal presents of brandy, tobacco, and 
cloth while they went out with him every day on the 
search for such a place, but not a single one was 
discovered which seemed to promise profitable exploita- 
tion. At last, from a conversation which he happened 
to overhear, he learnt that they purposely took him 
past all the favourable spots, and then their friendly 
relations came to a sudden end. Of the timber 
that stands near enough to the river to be easily 
transported, nearly the whole has already been felled. 

About half the forest area has been put, through 
concessions, into the hands of big European companies. 
The rest is free, and any one, white or black, can fell 
timber there as he pleases. But even in the woodlands 
covered by the concessions the companies often allow . 
the natives to fell trees as freely as they can in the other 
parts, on the one condition that they sell the timber 
to the company itself, and not to other dealers. 

The important thing, after all, is not to own woods, 
but to have timber for sale, and the timber which the 



THE CHOICE OF A SITE FOR WORK 97 

negroes cut down on their own account and then offer 
to the company works out cheaper than what the 
latter get through their contract labour. On the other 
hand, the supply from the free natives is so uncertain 
that it cannot be relied upon for trade purposes. They 
may take it into their heads to celebrate a festival, 
or to have a big fishing expedition just when the demand 
for timber is greatest, so the companies, while they buy 
all they can from the natives, also keep their own 
labourers constantly at work. 



When a suitable spot has been discovered, there come 
to it either the men of a village who have agreed to 
exploit it together, or the white man with his labourers, 
and huts are erected to live in. The great difficulty is 
food. One is faced with the problem of securing sup- 
plies for from sixty to one hundred men for weeks and 
months together, and that in the middle of the virgin 
forest. The nearest village and the nearest plantations 
are perhaps twenty-five miles away, and only to be 
reached by a weary struggle through jungle and swamp. 
Unfortunately, too, the staple foods of banana and 
manioc* are bulky, and therefore troublesome to 
transport ; moreover, they only keep good for a few 
days. The great drawback attaching to Equatorial 

* Manioc, better known perhaps to English readers as cassava, 
belongs to the Euphorbiaceae. The two chief kinds are Manihot 
utilissima, the bitter, which contains the hydrocyanic acid, and 
Manihot Aipi, the sweet, which is harmless. The roots are 3 feet 
long and 6 to g inches in diameter, filled with milky juice. The 
starch as prepared for food is known first as Brazilian arrowroot, and 
this, when further prepared, as the tapioca of commerce. (Encycl. 



93 VI. LUMBERMEN AND RAFTSMEN 

Africa is that none of its food products keep long. 
Bananas and manioc ripen the whole year through, now 
freely, now sparingly, according to the time of year, but 
bananas go bad six days after gathering, and manioc 
bread ten days after it is made. The manioc root by 
itself is unusable, as there are poisonous species which 
contain cyanic acid, to get rid of which the roots are 
soaked for some days in running water. Stanley lost 
three hundred carriers because they too hastily ate 
manioc root which had not been washed long enough. 
When it is taken out of the water it is crushed and 
rubbed, and undergoes fermentation, and this produces 
a kind of tough, dark dough, which is moulded into 
thin sticks and wrapped in leaves for preservation. 
Europeans find this a very poor food. 

Since, then, the regular provision of local foodstuffs 
is so difficult, these native timber workers have to 
reconcile themselves to living on rice and preserved 
foods from Europe. This means mostly cheap tins of 
sardines, prepared specially for export to the inland 
regions of Africa, and of these the stores always have a 
big supply in stock. Variety is secured by means of 
tinned lobster, tinned asparagus, and Californian fruits. 
The expensive tinned stufl which the well-to-do 
European denies himself as too expensive, the negro, 
when felling timber, eats from necessity ! 

And shooting? In the real forest shooting is im- 
possible. There is, indeed, wild life in plenty, but how 
is it to be discovered and pursued in the thick jungle ? 
Good shooting is only to be had where grassland or tree- 
less marshes alternate with the forest, but in such 
places there is usually no timber to be felled. Thus, 
paradox though it seems, it is nowhere easier to starve 



LIFE ON THE CHOSEN SITE 99 

than amid the luxurious vegetation of the game- 
haunted forests of Equatorial Africa ! 

How the timber-workers manage to get through the 
day with the tsetse fly, and through the night with 
the mosquito, it is hard to tell. Often, too, they 
have to work 'for days together up to the hips in 
water. Naturally they all suffer from fever and 
rheumatism. 

The felling of the trees is very troublesome work 
because of the thickness of the trunks. Moreover, the 
giants of the forest do not grow up out of the earth 
round and smooth ; they are anchored to the ground 
by a row of strong, angular projections, which as 
they leave the stems become the main roots, and act as 
buttresses. Mother Nature, as though she had studied 
under the best architects, gives these forest giants the 
only sort of protection which could be effective against 
the force of the tornadoes. 

In many cases the hewing of the trees at ground level 
is not to be thought of. The axe can begin its work 
only at the height of a man's head, or it may even be 
necessary to erect a scaffold on which the hewers can 
then stand. 

Several men must toil hard for days before the axe 
can finish its work, and even then the tree does not 
always fall. It is tangled into a single mass with its 
neighbours by powerful creepers, and only when these 
have been cut through does it come, with them, to the 
ground. Then begins the process of cutting up* It is 
sawn, or hewn with axes, into pieces from 12 to 15 feet 
long, until the point is reached at which the diameter 
is less than 2 feet. The rest is left, and decays, and with 
it those portions also which are too thick, that is, which 



ioo VI. LUMBERMEN AND RAFTSMEN 

are more than 5 to 5j feet in diameter, as such huge 
pieces are too awkward to handle. 

The felling and cutting up of the trees takes place as 
a nile in the dry season, that is, between June and 
October. The next work is to clear the track by which 
these mighty logs, weighing sometimes as much as 
three tons, are to be rolled to the nearest piece of 
water. Then begins a contest with the roots which 
have been left in the ground and the huge tree tops 
which are lying upon it, and not infrequently the 
mighty trunk itself has in its fall embedded itself three 
feet in the soil. But in time the track is got fairly 
ready, the portions which run through swamp being 
filled up with wood. The pieces spoken of as " billets " 
(French, billes) are rolled on to the track, thirty men, 
with rhythmical shouts, pushing and shoving at each 
one and turning it slowly over and over on its axis. 
If a piece is very large, or not quite round, human 
strength may not suffice, and the movement is effected 
by means of jacks. Then a hillock in the way may pre- 
sent a difficulty to be overcome ; or, again, the wood- 
packing in the swamp may give way ! The thirty men 
in an afternoon's work seldom move one of these 
" billets " more than eighty to ninety yards. 

And time presses ! All the timber must be got to the 
pond to be ready for the high water at the end of 
November and the beginning of December, since it is 
only just then that the pond is in connection with the 
rivers. Any timber that misses this connection re- 
mains in the forest, and is reduced to such a condition 
by the parasitic wood-insectsespecially by a species 
of Bostrichid beetle that it is not worth buying. At 
best it can be saved when the spring high water comes, 



LIFE ON THE CHOSEN SITE mr 

but that is often not high enough to connect all the 
ponds, and if the timber has to stay there till the next 
autumn flood it is assuredly lost. 

Occasionally, once perhaps in ten years, even the 
autumn flood does not rise high enough, and then the 
season's work is wholly lost on many timber-working 
sites. This happened last autumn (1913), and many 
middle-sized and small trading firms are reported to 
have been nearly ruined. The male populations of 
many villages, too, after labouring for months, did not 
earn enough to cover their debts for the rice and tinned 
foods that they had had to buy. 

At last the timber is in the river, moored to the 
jungle on the bank with ropes of creepers, and the white 
trader comes to buy what the negroes of the different 
villages have to offer him. And here caution is neces- 
sary. Is the timber really of the kind desired, or have 
the negroes smuggled in among it pieces of some other 
tree with a similar bark and similar veining which stood 
at the water's edge ? Is it all freshly cut, or are there 
some last year's logs, or even some of the year before 
last, which have had their ends sawn off to make them 
look new ? The inventive skill of the negroes with a 
view to cheating in timber borders on the incredible ! 
Let the newcomer be on his guard! For example: In 
Libreville Bay a young English merchant was to buy 
for his firm some ebony, a heavy wood, which comes 
into the market in short logs. The Englishman 
reported with satisfaction that he had secured some 
huge pieces of magnificent ebony, but no sooner had his 
first purchase reached England than he received a 
telegram saying that what he had bought and 
despatched for ebony was nothing of the kind ; that 



loa VI. LUMBERMEN AND RAFTSMEN 

his expensive stuff was worthless, and he himself 
responsible for the loss involved ! The fact was that 
the negroes had sold him some hard wood which they 
had allowed to lie for several months in the black 
swamp. There it had soaked in the colour so thoroughly 
that at the ends and to a certain depth all over it 
seemed to be the finest ebony ; the inner part, however, 
was of a reddish colour. The inexperienced white man 
had neglected to test his bargain by sawing one of the 
logs in two ! 

The dealer, then, measures and purchases the timber. 
The measuring is a difficult job, as he has to jump about 
on the logs, which turn over in the water with his 
weight. Then he pays up half the purchase money, 
keeping the rest till the timber, on which the trade 
mark of his firm is now cut, has been brought safely 
down to the coast. Sometimes, however, it happens 
that natives sell the timber four or five times over, 
pocketing the money each time and then disappearing 
into the forest till the transaction has been forgotten, 
or till the white man is tired of spending time and 
money in going after the swindlers, by whom, indeed, 
he is not likely to be indemnified, seeing that, long 
before he finds them, they will have spent the money 
in tobacco and other things, 



Next comes the building of the rafts, or floats, for 
which neither rope nor wire is needed, as the supple 
creepers of the forest are cheaper and better than either, 
and can be had as thin as a finger or as thick as one's 
arm. From 60 to 100 of the 12 to 15 feet trunks are 
arranged one behind the other in two rows and bound 



THE RAFTS. 1HE VOYAGE 103 

together, so that the raft is from 25 to 30 feet broad, 
and about 130 feet long, and its weight may be as much 
as 200 tons. Long planks are also bound upon it on a 
regular plan, and these give it the necessary strength 
and firmness. Next huts of bamboo and raffia 
leaves are built upon it, and a special platform of logs 
is coated with clay to serve as a fireplace for cooking. 
Powerful steering-oars are fixed in front and behind in 
strong forks, so that the course of the raft can be to 
some extent guided, and as each of these needs at least 
six men to work it, there must be a crew of between 
fifteen and twenty men. Then when all the bananas 
and manioc sticks that can be procured have been 
placed upon it, the voyage begins. 

The crew must know well the whereabouts of the 
continually shifting sandbanks, in order to avoid them, 
and these, covered as they are with brown water, are 
very hard to detect at any considerable distance. If 
the raft strikes one, there is no way of getting it afloat 
again but by releasing from it one by one the logs 
which have got fixed in the sand, and putting them 
back again afterwards. Sometimes the raft has to be 
taken entirely to pieces and re-made, a proceeding 
which under those conditions takes a week and involves 
the loss of a certain number of the logs, which the 
stream carries away during the work. Time, too, is 
precious, for provisions are usually not too abundant, 
and the further they get dcwn the Ogowe, the harder it 
is to get more. For a few wretched bananas the people 
of the villages on the lower Ogowe exact from the 
hungry raftsmen a franc, or a franc and a half ; or they 
may refuse to supply anything at all. 

It happens not infrequently during the voyage that 



104 VI. LUMBERMEN AND RAFTSMEN 

the crew sell some of the good logs in the raft to other 
negroes, and replace them with less valuable ones of 
exactly the same sizes, putting the firm's trade mark 
upon these with deceptive accuracy. These inferior 
pieces that have been thrown away in the forest have 
been lying in dozens ever since" the last high water, 
either on the sandbanks or in the little bays on the 
river banks, and there are said to be villages which 
keep a big store of them of all possible sizes. The good 
t ; mber which has been taken from the raft is later made 
unrecognisable, and is sold over again to a white man. 

Other reasons, too, the white man has for anxiety 
about his raft on its way down. In so many days the 
ship which is to take the timber will be at Cape Lopez, 
and the rafts have tiU then to come in : the crew have 
been promised a handsome bonus if they arrive in good 
time. But if the tomtom is sounded in a river-bank 
village as they pass, they may succumb to the tempta- 
tion to moor the raft and join in the festivities for two, 
four, six days I Meanwhile the ship waits at Cape 
Lopez and the trader must pay for the delay a fine 
which turns his hoped-for profitable stroke of business 
into a serious loss. 

The 200 miles (350 kilometres) from Lambarene 
to Cape Lopez usually take such a raft fourteen days. 
The, at first, comparatively quick rate of progress 
slows down towards the end, for about fifty miles from 
the river mouth the tide makes itself felt in the river. 
For this reason, too, the river water can no longer be 
drunk, and as there are no springs within reach, the 
canoe which is attached to the raft is filled in good time 
with fresh water. From now on progress can be made 
only with the ebb tide and when the flood tide sets in 



IN CAPE LOPEZ BAY 103 

the raft is moored to the bank with a creeper as thick 
as a man's arm, so that it may not be carried back 
upstream. 



The next step is to get the raft into a narrow, winding 
side stream about twenty miles long which enters the 
sea through the southern shore of Cape Lopez Bay. If 
it is swept into any of the other arms which have their 
outlet in the middle of the bay it is lost, for the strong 
current of the rivers, which, after being dammed up by 
the flood tide, rushes down at five miles an hour, 
carries it right out to sea. Through the southern ana 
however, it comes out into a strip of shallow water 
which runs along the coast, and over this it can be 
navigated with long poles to Cape Lopez. Here again, 
if the raft gets a few yards too far from the shore so 
that the punting-poles cannot touch bottom, it can no 
longer be guided and gets swept out to sea, and within 
these last ten miles a mighty contest often develops 
between the crew and the elements. If a land breeze 
gets up there is hardly anything to be done. If, 
indeed, the position of the raft is noticed at Cape Lopez, 
they try to send a boat to it with an anchor and a cable, 
and that may save it if the waves are not so strong as 
to break it up. But if that happens, there is only one 
thing for the crew to do, if they do not wish to be lost 
also, and that is to leave the raft, in the canoe and at 
the right moment. For once out at the mouth of the 
bay, no canoe can make its way back to Cape Lopez 
in the teeth of the ebb tide and the regular current of 
the river. The flat, keelless vessels which are used in 
the river are useless in a contest with the waves. 



io6 VI. LUMBERMEN AND RAFTSMEN 

In this way more than one raft has been,lost, and more 
than one crew has disappeared in the waves. One of my 
white patients once found himself on one of these un- 
lucky rafts. They were driven out to sea after dark by 
a breeze which got up quite unexpectedly, and the force 
of the waves made it hopeless to think of escaping in 
the canoe. The raft was beginning to break up when 
a motor longboat came to the rescue, some one on the 
shore having noticed the lantern which the despairing 
men had waved to and fro as they drove past, and sent 
the rescue boat, which happened fortunately to have 
its steam up, in pursuit of the moving light. 

Brought safely to Cape Lopez, the raft is taken to 
pieces and the logs go into " the park." At the most 
sheltered part of the bay two rows of tree-trunks are 
bound together so as to form a sort of double chain. 
This is effected by driving into the trunks iron wedges 
which end in rings through which strong wire ropes are 
drawn. This double chain of logs protects the calm 
water from the movement of the sea, and behind this 
11 breakwater," or boom, float as many logs as there is 
room for. The logs are further fastened together by other 
wire ropes, running through iron rings which have been 
driven into them, and every two or three hours a watch- 
man goes round to see whether the boom is all right, 
whether the rings are still holding, and whether the 
continual rubbing in the rings and the frequent bending 
with the up and down movement of the water has not 
made the wire ropes worn and unsafe. But often the 
utmost foresight and care is useless. A rope in the 
breakwater gives way during the night without any one 
noticing it, and when in the morning the owner of the 
logs comes to inspect them, they have journeyed out 



LOADING. CHIEF KINDS OF TIMBER 107 

to sea, never to return. Some months ago an English 
firm lost in this way, in a single night, timber worth 
something like 1,600 (40,000 francs) . But if a tornado 
comes there is no controlling anything. The huge 
trunks in the park plunge about like dolphins be- 
witched, and finally make an elegant jump over the 
boom into the free water beyond. 



Thus every day that the raft lies in the bay brings a 
risk, and anxiously is the ship awaited which is to take 
the logs away. No sooner has it arrived than the motor 
boats tow raft after raft to its landward side, those that 
are to be shipped having been prepared first by having 
wire ropes run through a line of rings at each end. 
Negroes jump about on the tossing raft, and knock the 
two rings out of the log that is to be shipped next, so 
that it floats free of the raft, and then they slip round it 
the chain with which it is to be hoisted on board. This 
needs a tremendous amount of skill, for if a labourer 
falls into the water from the wet and slippery surface 
of a rolling log he will probably get his legs crushed 
between these two or three-ton masses of wood which 
are continually dashing against one another. 

From the verandah I can watch through my glasses 
some negroes occupied with this work, which is made 
much harder for them by the delightful breeze I am 
enjoying, and I know that if a tornado comes, or even 
a really stiff breeze, the rafts which are lying along the 
ship's side wiD certainly be lost- 

The losses in timber, then, between the places where 
it is felled and its successful hoisting on board ship, are 



icS VI. LUMBERMEN AND RAFTSMEN 

tremendous,, and the lagoons near the mouth of the 
Ogowe are veritable timber graveyards. Hundreds and 
hundreds of gigantic tree trunks stick out of the mud 
there, the majority being trees which could not be got 
away at the right time and were left to rot, till a bigger 
flood than usual carried them out to the river. When 
they got to the bay, wind and tide carried them into the 
lagoons, from which they will never emerge. At this 
present minute I can count, with the help of my glasses, 
some forty trunks which are tossing about in the bay, 
to remain the plaything of ebb and flood and wind 
till they find a grave either in the lagoons or in the 
ocean. 

As soon as the raft has been safely delivered the crew 
make haste to get back up the river, either in their 
canoe or in a steamer, in order that they may not 
starve in Cape Lopez, for all the fresh provisions in the 
port town have to be brought some 125 miles down the 
river from the interior, since nothing of the kind can be 
grown in the sands of the coast or the marshes of the 
river mouth. When they have got back home, and 
have been paid off by the purchaser of the timber, 
quantities of tobacco, brandy, and all sorts of goods are 
bought by them at the latter's store. As rich men, 
according to native notions, they return to their villages, 
but in a few weeks, or even earlier, the whole of the 
money has run through their fingers, and they look out 
for a new place at which to begin their hard work over 
again. 

The export of timber from Cape Lopez is increasing 
steadily; at the present time (1914) it amounts to 
about 150,000 tons a year. The chief sorts dealt in are 
mahogany, which the natives call ombega, and okoume 



LOADING. CHIEF KINDS OF TIMBER 109 

(Aucoumea klaineana), the so-called false mahogany. 
The latter is softer than real mahogany, and is used 
mostly for making cigar-boxes, but it is employed also 
for furniture, and has a great future before it. Many 
species of it are almost more beautiful than the real 
mahogany. 

If the timber is left too long in the water it is 
attacked by the boring mollusc, the teredo navalis 
(French tarefy. This is a small worm-like creature, 
really a kind of mussel, which eats a passage for itself 
straight to the centre of the log. For this reason any 
timber that has to wait a long time for the ship is rolled 
on to the shore, and advantage is usually taken of this 
to hew off the sap wood, so that the trunk becomes a 
square beam. 

But besides the okoume and mahogany there are 
many other valuable kinds of wood on the Ogowe. 
I win mention the ekewasengo, or rosewood (boisderose), 
and coralwood (bois de coraty, both of which have a 
beautiful red colour, and the ironwood, which is so hard 
that in the sawmill at N'G6mo there are cog-wheels 
in use that are made of it. There grows here also 
a wood which, when planed, looks like white moiri 
silk. 

The finest woods, however, are not exported, because 
they are not yet known in European markets, and are, 
therefore, not in demand. When they do become known 
and sought after, the Ogowe timber trade will become 
even more important than it is to-day. The reputation 
of being the best wood expert on the Ogowe belongs to 
Mr. Haug, one of the missionaries at N'G6m6, who has 
a valuable collection of specimens of every kind of it. 
At first I could not understand how it is that everybody 



no VI. LUMBERMEN AND RAFTSMEN 

here, even people who have nothing to do with the 
timber trade, is so interested in the different kinds of 
wood. In the course of time, however, and thanks to 
continual intercourse with timber merchants, I have 
myself become, as my wile says, a timber fanatic. 



CHAPTER VII 

SOCIAL PROBLEMS IX THE FOREST 
WRITTEN WHILE on THB RIVER, July $oth Aug. tnd, 1914. 

I AM again fit for work, and the skipper of a small 
steamer, which belongs to a trading firm at X'Djoli, has 
^een kind enough to take us with him to Lambarene, 
Dut our progress is only slow, as we have a heavy cargo 
:>f kerosene. This comes in square tins, each holding 
[our gallons (eighteen litres), straight from the U.S.A. 
to the Ogowe, and the natives are beginning to use it 
freely. 

I am profiting by the long voyage to arrange and clear 
my ideas as to the social problems which, to my astonish- 
ment, I have come across in the forest. We talk freely 
in Europe about colonisation, and the spread of civilisa- 
tion in the colonies, but without making clear to our- 
selves what these words mean. 

But are there really social problems in the forest ? 
Yes ; one has only to listen for ten minutes to con- 
versation between any two white men, and one will 
certainly hear them touch on the most difficult of them 
all, viz,, the labour problem. People imagine in 
Europe that as many labourers as are wanted can 
always be found among the savages, and secured for 
very small wages. The real fact is the very opposite. 
Labourers are nowhere more difficult to find than 



113 VII. SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

among primitive races, and nowhere are they paid so 
well in proportion to the work they do in return. This 
conies from their laziness, people say ; but is the negro 
really so lazy ? Must we go a little deeper into the 
problem ? 

Any one who has seen the population of a native 
village at work, when they have to clear a piece of virgin 
forest in order to make a new plantation, knows that 
they are able to work enthusiastically, and with all 
their might, for weeks together. This hardest of all 
work, I may say in passing, is forced upon every 
village triennially. The banana exhausts the soil with 
extraordinary rapidity, so that every three years they 
must lay out a new plantation, manured by the ashes 
of the jungle, which they cut down and burn. For 
my part I can no longer talk ingenuously of the 
laziness of the negro after seeing fifteen of them spend 
some thirty-six hours in almost uninterrupted rowing 
in order to bring up the river to me a white man who 
was seriously ill. 

The negro, then, under certain circumstances works 
well, but only so long as circumstances require it. 
The child of nature here is the answer to the puzzle 
is always a casual worker. 

In return for very little work nature supplies the 
native with nearly everything that he requires for his 
support in his village. The forest gives him wood, 
bamboos, raffia leaves, and bast for the building of a 
hut to shelter him from sun and rain. He has only to 
plant some bananas and manioc, to do a little fishing 
and shooting, in order to have by him all that he really 
needs, without having to hire himself out as a labourer 
and to earn regular wages. If he does take a situation, 



THE LABOUR PROBLEM 113 

it is because he needs money for some particular object ; 
he wishes to buy a wife, or his wife, or his wives, want 
some fine dress material, or sugar, or tobacco; he 
himself wants a new axe, or hankers after mm or cheap 
spirits, or would like to wear boots and a suit of khaki. 

There are, then, various needs differing in number 
with the individual, but all lying outside the regular 
struggle for existence, which bring the child of nature to 
hire himself out for work. If he has no definite object in 
view for which to earn money he stays in his village. If 
he is at work anywhere and finds that he has earned 
enough to supply his heart's desires, he has no reason 
for troubling himself any further, and he returns to his 
village, where he can always find board and lodging. 

The negro, then, is not idle, but he is a free man ; 
hence he is always a casual worker, with whose labour 
no regular industry can be carried on. This is what the 
missionary finds to be the case on the mission station 
and in his own house on a small scale, and the planter 
or merchant on a large one. When my cook has 
accumulated money enough to let him gratify the wishes 
of his wife and his mother-in-law, he goes off without 
any consideration of whether we still want his services 
or not. The plantation owner is left in the lurch by his 
labourers just at the critical time when he must wage 
war on the insects that damage the cocoa plant. Just 
when there comes from Europe message after message 
about timber, the timber merchant cannot find a soul 
to go and fell it, because the village happens at the 
moment to be out on a fishing expedition, or is laying 
out a new banana plot. So we are all filled with 
righteous indignation at the lazy negroes, though the 
real reason why we cannot get them is that they have 



n* VII, SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

not yet learnt to understand what we really mean by 
continuous work. 

There is, therefore, a serious conflict between the 
needs of trade and the fact that the child of nature is a 
free man. The wealth of the country cannot be ex- 
ploited because the native has so slight an interest in the 
process. How train him to work ? How compel him ? 

" Create in him as many needs as possible ; only so 
can the utmost possible be got out of him," say the 
State and commerce alike. The former imposes on 
him involuntary needs in the shape of taxes. With us 
every native above fourteen pays a poll tax of five francs 
a year, and it is proposed to double it. If that is done, 
a man with two wives and seven children will contribute 
4 (100 francs) a year, and have to provide a corre- 
sponding amount either of labour or of products of the 
soil. The trader encourages voluntary needs in him 
by offering him wares of all sorts, useful ones such as 
clothing material or tools, unnecessary ones such as 
tobacco and toilet articles, and harmful ones like 
alcohol. The useful ones would never be enough to 
produce an amount of labour worth mentioning. 
Useless trifles and rum are almost more effective. 
Just consider what sort of things are offered for sale in 
the forest ! Not long ago I got the negro who manages 
for a white man a little shop dose to a small lake, miles 
away from civilisation, to show me all his stock. 
Behind the counter stood conspicuous the beautiful 
white painted cask of cheap spirits. Next to it stood 
the boxes of tobacco leaves and the tins of kerosene. 
Further on was a collection of knives, axes, saws, nails, 
screws, sewing machines, flat-irons, string for making 
fishing-nets, plates, glasses, enamelled dishes of all sizes, 



THE LABOUR PROBLEM 115 

lamps, rice, tinned stuff of every variety, salt, sugar, 
blankets, dress material, muslin for mosquitoes, Gillette 
safety razors (!), collars and ties in rich variety, blouses 
and chemises trimmed with lace, corsets, elegant shoes, 
openwork stockings, gramophones,, concertinas, and 
fancy articles of all sorts. Among the last named was 
a plate, resting on a stand, of which there were several 
dozen. " What is that ? " I asked. The negro moved 
a lever in the bottom part and a little musical box at 
once began to play. " This is my best paying article/* 
said he. " All the women in the neighbourhood want 
one of these plates, and plague their husbands till they 
have earned enough to buy one ! " 

It is true that taxes and new needs can make a negro 
work more than he used to, but they do not train him 
to work, or only to a small extent. They make him 
anxious for money and for enjoyment, but not reliable 
or conscientious. If he does take service anywhere, he 
only thinks how he can get most money for least work, 
and he works only so long as his employer is near. Just 
recently I engaged some day labourers to build a new 
hut for the hospital, but when I came in the evening to 
see the work, nothing had been done. On the third or 
fourth day I got angry, but one of the blacks and one 
who was by no means the worst of them said to me : 
" Doctor, don't shout at us so ! It is your own fault. 
Stay here and we shall work, but if you are in the 
hospital with the sick folk, we are alone and do no- 
thing/' Now I have adopted a plan, and when I engage 
any day labourers I arrange to have two or three hours 
free. During this time I make them work till their dark 
skins glisten with sweat, and so I manage to get a certain 
amount done. 



i!6 VII. SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

Increasing their needs does effect something, but not 
much. The child of nature becomes a steady worker 
only so far as he peases to be free and becomes unfree, 
and this can be brought about in several ways. The 
first step to be taken is to prevent him for a certain time 
from returning to his village. Planters and forest- 
owners never, on principle, hire labourers from the 
neighbourhood, but engage for a year young men from 
strange tribes who live at a distance, and then bring 
them where they are wanted by water. The agree- 
ments are drawn up by the Government, and, like many 
other things in French colonial administration, are 
calculated to effect their object with due regard to 
humanity. At the end of each week the labourer is 
paid half, but only half, of his wages ; the rest is put 
by and is handed over to him at the end of the year 
when the white man has to send him home. He is thus 
prevented from spending his money as quickly as he 
earns it, and from going home with empty hands. 
Most of them hire themselves out in this way to get 
money enough to buy a wife. 

And what is the result ? They have to hold out for 
the year, because they cannot get back to their village, 
but very few of them are really useful workers. Many 
get homesick. Others cannot put up with the strange 
diet, for, as no fresh provisions are to be had, they must 
as a rule live chiefly on rice. Most of them fall victims 
to the taste for rum, and ulcers and diseases spread 
rapidly among them, living, as they do, a kind of 
barrack life in overcrowded huts. In spite of all 
precautions they mostly get through their pay as soon 
as the contract time is up, and return home as poor as 
they went away. 



THE PROBLEM OP COMPULSORY LABOUR 117 

The negro is worth something only so long as he is 
in his vilkge and under the moral control of intercourse 
with his family and other relatives ; away from these 
surroundings he easily goes to the bad, both morally 
and physically. Colonies of negro labourers away from 
their families are, in fact, centres of demoralisation, and 
yet such colonies are required for trade and for the 
cultivation of the soil, both of which would be impossible 
without them. 



The tragic element in this question is that the 
interests of civilisation and of colonisation do not 
coincide, but are largely antagonistic to each other. 
The former would be promoted best by the natives 
being left in their villages and there trained to various 
industries, to lay out plantations, to grow a little coffee 
or cocoa for themselves or even for sale, to build them* 
selves houses of timber or brick instead of huts of 
bamboo, and so to live a steady and worthy life. 
Colonisation, however, demands that as much of the 
population as possible shall be made available in every 
possible way for utilising to the utmost the natural 
wealth of the country. Its watchword is " Production," 
so that the capital invested in the colonies may 
pay its interest, and that the motherland may get 
her needs supplied through her connection with them* 
For the unsuspected incompatibilities which show 
themselves here, no individual is responsible ; they arise 
out of the circumstances themselves, and the lower the 
level of the natives and the thinner the population, the 
harder is the problem. In Zululand, for example, 
agriculture and cattle raising are possible, and the 



n8 VII. SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

natives develop naturally into a peasantry attached to 
the land and practising home industries, while, at the 
same time, the population is so thick that the labour 
requirements of European trade can also be met ; 
there, then, the problems of the condition of the natives 
and the promotion of civilisation among them are far 
less difficult than in the colonies where the country is 
mostly virgin forest and the population is at a really 
primitive stage of culture. Yet even there, too, it may 
come about that the economic progress aimed at by 
colonisation is secured at the expense of civilisation and 
the native standard of life. 

What, then, is the real educational value of the much 
discussed compulsory labour as enforced by the State ? 
What is meant by labour compulsion ? 

It means that every native who has not some 
permanent industry of his own must, by order of the 
State, spend so many days in the year in the service of 
either a trader or a planter. On the Ogowe we have 
no labour compulsion. The French colonial adminis- 
tration tries, on principle, to get on without any such 
measure. In German Africa, where labour compulsion 
was enforced in a humane but effective manner, the 
results were, according to some critics, good ; according 
to others, bad. I myself hold labour compulsion to be 
not wrong in principle, but impossible to carry through 
in practice. The average colony cannot get on without 
having it on a small scale. If I were an official and a 
planter came to tell me that his labourer? had left him 
just as the cocoa crop had to be gathered, and that the 
men in the neighbouring villages refused to come to his 
help at this critical time, I should think I had a right, 
and that it was even my duty, to secure him the labour 



THE PROBLEM OF COMPULSORY LABOUR 119 

of these men so long as he needed it for the saving of his 
crop, on payment, of course, of the wages usual in the 
locality. But the enforcement of general labour 
compulsion is complicated by the fact that under it 
men have practically always to leave their village and 
their family and go to work many miles away. Who 
provides their food on the journey ? What becomes 
of them if they fall ill ? Who will guarantee that the 
white man does not call on them for their labour just 
when their village has to set about its own planting, 
or when it is the best time for fishing expeditions ? 
Will he not, perhaps, keep them longer than he is 
entitled to, on the plea that they have done no work ? 
Will he treat them properly ? There is always the 
danger that compulsory labour may become, secretly 
but really, a kind of slavery. 

Connected to some extent with the question of 
compulsory labour is that of the management of colonies 
by the method of " concessions." What is meant by 
a " concession " ? A company with plenty of capital 
has a large stretch of territory assigned to it, which it 
is to manage for so many years, and no other trader 
may establish himself there. Competition being thus 
excluded, the natives become very seriously dependent 
on the company and its employees. Even if the 
sovereign rights of the State are reserved to it on 
paper, the trading company does in practice come to 
exercise many of them more or less completely, especi- 
ally if the taxes which are owed to the State can be 
paid to the company in the form of natural products 
or of labour, to be handed on by it to the State in the 
form of cash. The question has been much discussed 
at times, because the system of large concessions led 



120 VII. SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

in the Belgian Congo to great abuses, and I do not 
ignore its dangers; it can, if taken advantage of 
wrongly, lead to the native belonging to the trader or 
planter as a creature that has no rights. But it has 
also its good points. The upper course of the Ogowe 
has been granted as a concession to the " Company of 
the Upper Ogowe/ 1 and I have discussed the question 
thoroughly with employees of this company who were 
with me for considerable periods for medical treatment, 
thus getting to know the arguments of both sides. 
When a company has not to fear competition, it can 
as the " Company of the Upper Ogowe " does banish 
rum and cheap spirits from its district, and provide 
for sale in its stores only things that are worth buying, 
w thout any rubbish. Directed by men of intelligence 
and wide views, it can exert much educational influence, 
and since the land belongs wholly to it for along period, 
it has a real interest in seeing that it is managed 
properly ; and it is little tempted to exhaust the 
soil. 

On the whole, then, the general principle of labour 
compulsion, in the sense that the State puts the natives 
at the disposal of private individuals, is to be rejected. 
The State has to apply it to a quite sufficient extent in 
the work it has to exact from the natives for generally 
necessary public objects. It must have at its disposal 
boatmen and carriers for its officials when they travel ; 
it must have men in its service for the construction 
and maintenance of roads, and under certain circum- 
stances it must exact contributions of foodstuffs for 
the support of its troops and its staff generally. 

There are two things which are terribly difficult in 
Africa : one is to provide any place which has a large 



THE PROBLEM OF COMPULSORY LABOUR iai 

population with fresh provisions, and the other is to 
maintain roads through the forest ; and both of these 
become proportionately more difficult where the 
population is thin and the distances great. I speak 
from experience. What trouble I have to secure 
food for my two assistants and for those of the sick in 
my hospital who live too far away to get what is 
necessary sent to them regularly from home ! There 
come times when I have to resort to compulsory 
measures, and say that every one who comes for treat- 
ment must bring a contribution of so many bananas 
or manioc sticks. This leads to endless wranglings 
with the patients, who say either that they do not 
know about the order, or that they have not enough for 
themselves. Of course, I do treat the serious cases 
and those who come from long distances, even if they 
have not brought the modest tribute demanded, but, 
however strongly I insist on this contribution being 
made, it does sometimes happen that I have to send 
sick people away because I no longer have the means 
of feeding them* The head of the mission station, 
who has to provide food for the 100 or 150 children 
in the school, is sometimes in the same position, and 
the school has to be closed, and the children sent home, 
because we cannot feed them. 

The labour levies and the food requisitions naturally 
affect chiefly the villages which lie nearest the white 
settlements. However considerate and just the action 
of the Government is, these natives feel it, nevertheless, 
as a burden, and endeavour to migrate to more distant 
parts, where they will be left in peace. Hence, in the 
neighbourhoods where there are only prinrtive tribes, 
and these not in great numbers, there comes into 



(22 VII. SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

existence round the settlements of the whites a zone 
which is uninhabited. Then the compulsion has to 
be applied in another way. The natives are forbidden 
to move their villages, and those at a distance are 
ordered to come near the white settlements, or to move 
to specified points on the caravan routes or on the 
river. This must be done, but it is tragic that it should 
be necessary, and the authorities have to take care that 
no change is enforced bej T ond what is really needful. 
In the Cameroons the forest has been pierced with a 
network of roads, which are kept in splendid condition 
and are the admiration of all visitors from other 
colonies. But has not this great achievement been 
brought about at the cost of the native population and 
their vital interests ? One is forced to ask questions 
when things have gone so far that women are impressed 
for the maintenance of the roads. It is impossible to 
acquiesce when, as is often the case, the colony itself 
prospers, while the native population diminishes year 
by year. Then the present is living at the expense of 
the future, and the obvious fatal result is only a question 
of time. The maintenance of the native population 
must be the first object of any sound colonial policy. 



Close on the problem of labour comes that of the 
educated native. Taken by itself, a thorough school 
education is, in my opinion, by no means necessary 
for these primitive peoples. The beginning of civilisa- 
tion with them is not knowledge, but industry and 
agriculture, through which alone can be secured the 
economic conditions of higher civilisation. But both 
Government and trade require natives with extensive 



THE PROBLEM OF THE EDUCATED NATIVE 1*3 

knowledge whom they can employ in administration 
and in the stores. The schools, therefore, must set 
their aims higher than is natural, and produce people 
who understand complicated figures and can write the 
white man's language perfectly. Many a native has 
such ability that the results of this attempt are, so far 
as intellectual knowledge goes, astounding, Not long 
ago there came to me a native Government clerk, just 
at the time that there was also a missionary staying 
with me. When the clerk went away, the missionary 
and I said to each other : " Well, we could hardly 
compete with him in essay writing ! ** His chief gives 
him documents of the most difficult sort to draw up 
and most complicated statistics to work out, and he 
does it all faultlessly. 

But what becomes of these people ? They have been 
uprooted from their villages, just like those who go off 
to work for strangers. They live at the store, con- 
tinually exposed to the dangers which haunt every 
native so closely, the temptations to defraud and to 
drink. They earn good wages, indeed, but as they have 
to buy all their necessaries at high prices, and are a 
prey to the black man's innate love of spending, they 
often find themselves in financial difficulties and even 
in want. They do not now belong to the ordinary 
negroes, nor do they belong to the whites either ; they 
are a teriium quid between the two. Quite recently the 
above-mentioned Government clerk said to the wife of 
a missionary : " We negro intellectuals are in a very 
uncomfortable position. The women in these parts 
are too uneducated to be good wives for us. They 
should import wives for us from the higher tribes in 
Madagascar.*' This loss of class position in an upwards 



124 VIL SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

direction is the misfortune which comes to many of th 
best of the natives. 

Emancipation from the savage state produced by th 
accumulation of wealth plays no part here, though i 
may do so in other colonies. It is a still more dangerou 
method than that of intellectual education. 

Social problems are also produced by imports fron 
Europe. Formerly the negroes practised a number o; 
small industries ; they carved good household utensils 
out of wood ; they manufactured excellent cord out oi 
bark fibre and similar substances ; they got salt from 
the sea. But these and other primitive industries have 
been destroyed by the goods which European trade 
has introduced into the forest. The cheap enamelled 
ware has driven out the solid, home-made wooden 
bucket, and round every negro village there are heaps 
of such things rusting in the grass. Many minor crafts 
which they once practised are now almost forgotten ; 
it is now only the old women who know how to make 
cord out of bark, and sewing cotton out of the fibres 
of the pineapple leaves. Even the art of canoe-making 
is dying out. Thus native industries are going back- 
wards instead of forwards, just when the rise of a solid 
industrial class would be the first and surest step 
towards civilisation. 



. One first gets a clear idea of the real meaning of the 
social danger produced by the importation of cheap 
spirits, when one reads how much rum per head of the 
population comes every year to the port towns, and 
when one has seen in the villages how the children 
drink with their elders. Here on the Ogowe officials 



THE DRINK PROBLEM 125 

and traders, missionaries and chiefs are all unanimous 
that the importation of cheap spirits should be stopped. 
Why, then, is it not stopped ? Because it is so profitable 
to the revenue. The import duty on rum produces one 
of the biggest items in the receipts of the colony, and 
if it ceased there would be a deficit. The financial 
position of the African colonies is well known to be 
anything but brilliant, and the duty on spirits has a 
second advantage, that it can be increased every year 
without diminishing by a litre the quantity consumed. 
The position here, as in other colonies, is that the 
Government says : "Abolish cheap spirits? Willingly 
to-day rather than to-morrow ; but tell us first what 
we can find to cover the deficit which that will cause in 
the budget/' And the strongest opponents of alcohol 
have not been able to make any practicable proposal. 
When shall we find some way out of this idiotic dilemma? 
The one hope is that some day a governor will come who 
will put the future of the colony above the financial 
worries of the present, and have the courage to banish 
rum at the price of having to carry on for some years 
with a deficit.* 

It is often asserted that alcoholism would prevail 
among the natives even if there were no importation of 
spirits. This is mere talk. Of alcoholic drinks pro- 
duced in the country itself palm wine is the only one 
which has to be considered in the forest, and that is no 
great danger. It is simply the sap of the palm tree 
allowed to ferment, but the boring of the trees and the 
taking the necessary vessels to them needs a good deal 
of labour, for the work has to be done on the quiet at a 

* In the year 1919 the GOT-ernor actually ventured to try this 
policy to the great joy of the wiole colony. 



1*6 VII. SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

distance from the village, the boring of the trees being 
expressly forbidden. Moreover, palm wine will not 
keep. Its existence makes it possible, therefore, for 
the people of a village to get drunk several times a year, 
on the occasions of their festivals, but it is not a con- 
.thraal danger like the cheap spirits sold in the stores. 
Fresh palm wine tastes, when it is fermenting, very like 
the must of grape wine, and by itself it is not any more 
intoxicating than the latter ; but the natives are accus- 
tomed to put various species of bark into it, and then it 
can produce a terrible kind of drunkenness. 

Polygamy is another difficult social problem. We 
Europeans come here with our ideal of monogamy, and 
missionaries contend with all their resources against 
polygamy, in some places even urging the Government 
to suppress it by law. On the other hand, all of us here 
must allow that it is closely bound up with the existing 
economic and social conditions. Where the population 
lives in bamboo hutv&bd society is not so organised 
that a woman can earn her own living, there is no'room 
for the unmarried woman, and if all women are to be 
married, polygamy is a necessary condition. Moreover, 
there are in the forest neither cows nor nanny goats, so 
that a mother must suckle her child for a long time if 
it is to be reared. Polygamy safeguards the claims of 
the child, for after its birth the woman has the right, 
and the duty, of living only for her child ; she is now no 
longer a wife, but only a mother, and she often spends 
the greater part of this time with her parents. At the 
-end of three years comes the weaning, which is marked 
by a festival, and then she returns to her husband's 
hut to be a wife once more. But this living for her child 
is not to be thought of unless the man has another wife, 



POLYGAMY AND WIFE-PURCHASE 127 

or other wives, to make a home for him and look after his 
banana plots. 

Here is another point for consideration. Among 
these nature-peoples there are no widows unprovided 
for and no neglected orphans. The nearest male 
relative inherits the dead man's widow, and must 
maintain her and her children. She enters into enjoy- 
ment of all the rights of his other wives, even though 
she can later, with his consent, take another husband. 
To agitate, therefore, against polygamy among 
primitive peoples, is to undermine the whole structure 
of their society. Have we the right to do this if we 
are not also in a position to give them a new social 
order which suits their own circumstances ? Were the 
agitation successful, would not polygamy still continue 
to exist, with the single difference that the later wives 
would be illegitimate ones ? These questions naturally 
cause missionaries much anxious thought. 

But, as a matter of fact, the more developed the 
economic condition of a people becomes, the easier 
becomes the contest with polygamy. When men begin 
to live in permanent houses, and to practise the rearing 
of cattle, and agriculture, it disappears of itself because 
it is no longer demanded by their circumstances, and 
is no longer even consistent with them. Among the 
Israelites, as their civilisation advanced, monogamy 
peacefully drove out polygamy. During the prophetic 
period they were both practised side by side; the 
teaching of Jesus does not even hint at the existence 
of the latter. 

Certainly mission teaching should put forward 
monogamy as the ideal and as what Christianity 
demands, but it would be a mistake for the State to 



ia8 VII, SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

make it compulsory. It is also a mistake, so far as I 
can judge, to identify the fight against immorality 
with that against polygamy. Under this system the 
relation of the wives to each other is usually good. A 
negress does not, in fact, like being the only wife, 
because then she has the care of the banana v plot, which 
always falls to the wives, all to herself, and this is a 
laborious duty, as the plots are usually at a distance 
from the village in some well-concealed part of the 
forest. 

What I have seen in my hospital of life with many 
wives has not shown me, at any rate, the ugly side of 
the system. An elderly chief once came as a patient 
and brought two young wives with him. When his 
condition began to cause anxiety, a third appeared who 
was considerably older than the first two ; this was his 
first wife. From the day of her arrival she sat con- 
tinually on his bed, held his head in her lap, and gave 
him what he wanted to drink. The two young ones 
behaved respectfully to her, took orders from her, and 
looked after the cooking. 

One can have the experience in this land of a fourteen- 
year-old boy announcing himself as a paterfamilias. It 
comes about in the following way. He has inherited 
from some deceased relative a wife with children, and 
though the woman has contracted a marriage with 
another man, that does not touch his rights over the 
children nor his duty towards them. If they are boys, 
he will some day have to buy wives for them ; if they 
are girls, he will get the customary purchase price from 
those who wish to marry them. 

Should one declaim against the custom of wif e- 
purchase, or tolerate it ? If it is a case of a young 



POLYGAMY AND WIFE-PURCHASE 129 

woman being promised, without being herself consulted, 
to the man who bids most for her, it is obviously right 
to protest. If it merely means that in accordance 
with local custom the man who is courting a girl must, 
if she is willing to marry him, pay to the family a sum 
mutually agreed upon, there is no more reason for 
objecting than there is in the matter of the dowry, 
customary in Europe. Whether the man, if the 
marriage comes ofi, pays money to the family or receives 
money from it, is in principle the same thing ; in either 
case there is a definite money transaction which has its 
origin in the social views of the period. What has 
to be insisted on, both among ourselves and among 
"natives," is that the money transaction must remain 
subordinate, and not so influence the personal choice 
that either the wife is bought, as in Africa, or the 
husband, as in Europe. What we have to do, then, is 
not to fight against the custom of wife-purchase, but 
to educate the natives up to seeing that they must not 
give the girl to the highest bidder, but to the suitor who 
can make her happy, and whom she is herself inclined 
to take. As a rule, indeed, the negro girls are not so 
wanting in independence as to let themselves be sold 
to any one who offers. Love, it is true, does not play 
the same part in marriage here as with us, for the child 
of nature knows nothing of the romantic, and marriages 
are- usually decided on in the family council ; they do, 
however, as a rule, turn out happily. 

Most girls are married when they are fifteen, even 
those in the girls' schools. Those in our mission school 
are mostly already engaged to some husband, and marry 
as soon as they leave school. They can even be pro- 
mised to a husband before they are born, as I learnt 



130 VII. SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

through a case of most unprincipled wife-purchase, 
which took place at Samkita, and was related to me by 
a missionary. A man owed one of his neighbours 16 
(460 fr.), but, instead of repaying it, he bought a wife 
and married her with the usual ceremonies. While 
they were at the wedding feast, the creditor made his 
appearance, and overwhelmed the bridegroom " with 
abuse for having bought a wife instead of paying his 
debt. A palaver began which ended in an agreement 
that the debtor should give his creditor the first girl 
born of the marriage for a wife, on which the latter 
joined the guests and took his part in the festivities. 
Sixteen years later he came as a wooer, and so the debt 
was paid ! 

My opinion is, and I have formed it after conversation 
with all the best and most experienced of the white men 
in this district, that we should accept, but try to 
improve and refine, the rights and customs- which we 
find in existence, and make no alterations which are not 
absolutely necessary. 



A word in conclusion about the relations between the 
whites and the blacks. 'What must be the general 
character of the intercourse between them ? Am I to 
treat the black man as my equal or as my inferior ? I 
must show him that I can respect the dignity of human 
personality in every one, and this attitude in me he must 
be able to see for himself ; but the essential thing is that 
there shall be a real feeling of brotherliness. How far 
this is to find complete expression in the sayings and 
doings of daily life must be settled by circumstances. 
The negro is a child, and with children nothing can be 



RELATIONS BETWEEN WHITES AND BLACKS 131 

done without the use of authority. We must, therefore, 
so arrange the circumstances of daily life that my 
natural authority can find expression. With regard to 
the negroes, then, I have coined the formula : " I am 
your brother, it is true, but your elder brother." 

The combination of friendliness with authority is 
therefore the great secret of successful intercourse. 
One of our missionaries, Mr. Robert, left the staff some 
years ago to live among. the negroes as their brother 
absolutely. He built himself a small house near a 
village between Lambarene and N'G6mo, and ^shed 
to be recognised as a member of the village. From 
that day his life became a misery. With his abandon- 
ment of the social interval between white and black he 
lost all his influence ; his word was no longer taken as 
the " white man's word," but he had to argue every 
point with them as if he were merely their equal. 

When, before coming to Africa, I heard missionaries 
and traders say again and again that one must be very 
careful out here to maintain this authoritative position 
of the white man, it seemed to me to be a hard and 
unnatural position to take up, as it does to every one 
in Etirope who reads or hears the same. Now I have 
come to see that the deepest sympathy and kindness 
can be combined with this insistence on, certain external 
forms, and indeed are only possible by means of them. 
One of our unmarried missionaries at N'G6m6 the 
story belongs to a period some years back allowed his 
cook to be very free in his behaviour towards him. One 
day the steamer put in with the Governor on board, 
and the missionary went to pay his respects to the high 
official. He was standing on deck in an elegant suit of 
white among a group of officials and military men, 



132 VII. SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

when a negro, with his cap on his head and a pipe in 
his mouth, pushed himself into the group and said to 
him: "Well, what are we to have for supper to- 
night ? " The cook wanted to show on what good 
terms he stood with his master ! 

The prevention of unsuitable freedom is, however, 
only the external and technical part, so to say, of the 
problem of authority. A white man can only have 
real authority if the native respects him. No one must 
imagine that the child of nature looks up to us merely 
because we know more, or can do more, than he can. 
This superiority is so obvious to him that it ceases to 
be taken into account. It is by no means the case that 
the white man is to the negro an imposing person 
because he possesses railways and steamers, can fly in 
the air, or travel under water. "White people are 
clever and can do anything they want to," says Joseph. 
The negro is not in a position to estimate what these 
technical conquests of nature mean as proofs of mental 
and spiritual superiority, but on one point he has an 
unerring intuition, and that is on the question whether 
any particular white man is a real, moraJ^personality 
or not. If the native feels that he is thls,"mnrai 
authority is possible ; if not, it is simply impossible to 
create it. The child of nature, not having been 
artificialised and spoilt as we have been, has only 
elementary standards of judgment, and he measures us 
by the most elementary of them all, the moral standard. 
Where he finds goodness, justice, and genuineness of 
character, real worth and dignity, that is, behind the 
external dignity given by social circumstances, he bows 
and acknowledges his master ; where he does not find 
them he remains really defiant in spite of all appearance 



RELATIONS BETWEEN WHITES AND BLACKS 133 

of submission, and says to himself : " This white is no 
more of a man than I am, for he is not a better one than 
I am." 

I am not thinking merely of the fact that many un- 
suitable, and not a few quite unworthy men, go out 
into the colonies of all nations. I wish to emphasise 
a further fact that even the morally best and the 
idealists find it difficult out here to be what they wish 
to be. We all get exhausted in the terrible contest 
between the European worker who bears the responsi- 
bility and is always in a hurry, and the child of nature 
who does not know what responsibility is and is never 
in a hurry. The Government official has to record at 
the end of the year so much work done by the native 
in building and in road-maintenance, in service as 
carrier or boatman, and so much money paid in taxes ; 
the trader and the planter are expected by their com- 
panies to provide so much profit for the capital invested 
in the enterprise. But in all this they are for ever 
dependent on men who cannot share the responsibility 
that weighs on them, who only give just so much return 
of labour as the others can force out of them, and who 
\i there is the slightest failure in superintendence, do 
exactly as they like without any regard for the loss 
that may be caused to their employers. In this daily 
and hourly contest with the child of nature eveiy 
white man is continually in danger of gradual moral 
ruin. 

My wife and I were once very much delighted with a 
newly-arrived trader, because in the conversations we 
had with him he was always insisting on kindness to- 
wards the natives, and would not allow the slightest 
ill-treatment of them by his foremen. The next spring, 



134 VIZ. SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE FOREST 

however, he had the following experience. Lying in a 
pond some sixty miles from here he had a large quantity 
of mahogany, but he was summoned to Lambarene to 
clear oS some urgent correspondence just as the water 
began to rise. He ordered his foremen and labourers 
to be sure to use the two or three days of high water to 
get all the timber, if possible, into the river. When the 
water had fallen he went back to the place and found 
that nothing whatever had been done! They had 
smoked, and drunk, and danced; the timber which 
had already lain too long in the pond was almost com- 
pletely ruined, and he was responsible to his company 
for the loss. His men had been thoughtless and in- 
different because they did not fear him enough. This 
experience changed him entirely, and now he laughs at 
those who think it is possible to do anything with the 
natives without employing relentless severity. 

Not long ago the termites, or white ants, got into a 
box which stood on our verandah. I emptied the box 
and broke it up, and gave the pieces to the negro who 
had been helping me. " Look," I said to him, " the ants 
have got into it ; you mustn't put the wood with the 
rest of the firewood or the ants will get into the frame- 
work of the hospital building. Go down to the river and 
throw it into the water. Do you understand ? " 
" Yes, yes, you need not worry." It was late in the 
day, and being too tired to go down the hill again, I 
was inclined to break my general rule and trust a black 
one who was in fact on the whole intelligent and 
handy. But about ten o'clock I felt so uneasy that I 
took the lantern and went down to the hospital. There 
was the wood with the ants in it lying with the rest of 
the firewood. To save himself the trouble of going 



RELATIONS BETWEEN WHITES AND BLACKS 135 

the twenty yards down to the river the negro had 
endangered all my buildings ! 

The greater the responsibility that rests on a white 
man, the greater the danger of his becoming hard to- 
wards the natives. We on a mission staff are too easily 
inclined to become self-righteous with regard to the 
other whites. We have not got to obtain such and 
such results from the natives by the end of the year, as 
officials and traders have, and therefore this exhausting 
contest is not so hard a one for us as for them. I no 
longer venture to judge my fellows after learning some- 
thing of the soul of the white man who is in business 
from those who lay as patients under my roof, and 
whose talk has led me to suspect that those who now 
speak savagely about the natives may have come out to 
Africa full of idealism, but in the daily contest have 
become weary and hopeless, losing little by little what 
they once possessed of spirituality. 

That it is so hard to keep oneself really humane, and 
so to be a standard-bearer of civilisation, that is the 
tragic element in the problem of the relations between 
white and coloured men in Equatorial Africa, 



CHAPTER VIII 

CHRISTMAS, 1914 

A WAR-CHRISTMAS in the virgin forest 1 When the 
candles on the little palm which served us as Christmas 
tree had burnt to half their length I blew them out. 
" What are you doing ? " asked my wife. " They are 
all we have/' said I, " and we must keep them for next 
year." " For next year ? " . , . and she shook her 
head. 

On August 4th, two days after our return from Cape 
Lopez, I had prepared some medicine for a lady who 
was ill there, and sent Joseph to a store to ask that their 
steamer might take the packet down there on its next 
journey. He brought back a short note : " In Europe 
they are mobilising and probably already at war. We 
must place our steamer at the disposal of the authorities, 
and cannot say when it will go next to Cape Lopez/' 

We needed days to realise that Europe was at war, 
though it was not that we had failed to take the possi- 
bility of it into account ; indeed, following the advice 
of an experienced merchant, I had brought with me a 
considerable sum in metal money in case it should come 
about. But since the beginning of July we had re- 
ceived no news from Europe, and we knew nothing of 
the entanglements which finally brought on the fatal 
explosion. 

The negroes had, at first, very little understanding of 



NATIVE IMPRESSIONS REGARDING THE WAR 137 

what was going on. The Catholics among them were 
more really interested in the papal election than in the 
war, during the autumn. " Doctor," said Joseph to me 
during a canoe jouftiey, " how do the Cardinals really 
elect the Pope ; do they take the oldest one, or the most 
religious, or the cleverest ? " " They take one kind of 
man this time, and another kind the next, according to 
circumstances," was my reply. 

At first the black labourers felt the war as by no 
means a misfortune, as for several weeks very few were 
impressed for service. The whites did* little but sit 
together and discuss the news and the rumours from 
Europe. By now, however (Christmas, 1914), the 
coloured folk are beginning to learn that the war has 
consequences which affect them also. There being a 
shortage of ships, no timber can be exported, and there- 
fore the labourers from a distance who had been 
engaged for a year are being discharged by the stores, 
and as, further, there are no vessels plying on the rivers 
that could take them back to their homes, they collect 
in groups and try to reach the Loango coast, from which 
most of them come, on foot. 

Again, a sudden rise in the price of tobacco, sugar, 
rice, kerosene, and rum, brings home to the negro's 
consciousness the fact that there is a war going on, and 
this rise is what gives them more concern than anything 
else for the moment. Not long ago, while we were 
bandaging patients, Joseph began to complain of the 
war, as he had several times done before, as the cause 
of this rise in prices, when I said to him : " Joseph, 
you mustn't talk like that. Don't you see how troubled 
the faces of the doctor and his wife are, and the faces 
of an the missionaries ? For us the war means very 



13$ VIII. CHRISTMAS, 1914 

much more than an unpleasant rise in prices. We .are, 
all of us, anxious about the lives of so many of our dear 
fellow-men, and we can hear from far away the groaning 
of the wounded and the death rattle of the dying." He 
looked up at me with great astonishment at the time, 
but since then I have noticed that he now seems to see 
something that was hidden from him before. 

We are, all of us, conscious that many natives are 
puzzling over the question how it can be possible that 
the whites, who brought them the Gospel of Love, are 
now murdering each other, and throwing to the winds 
the commands of the Lord Jesus. When they put the 
question to us we are helpless. If I am questioned on 
the subject by negroes who think, I make no attempt 
to explain or to extenuate, but say that we are in 
" front " of something terrible and .incomprehensible. 
How far the ethical and religious authority of the white 
man among these children of nature is impaired by this 
war we shall only be able to measure later on. I fear 
that the damage done will be very considerable. 

In my own house I take care that the blacks learn as 
little as possible of the horrors of war. The illustrated 
papers we receive for the post has begun to work 
again fairly regularly I must not leave about, lest the 
boys, who can read, should absorb both text and 
pictures and retail them to others. . 

Meanwhile the medical work goes on as usual. 
Every morning when I go down to the hospital I feel 
it as an inexpressible mercy that, while so many men 
find it their duty to inflict suffering and death on others, 
I can be doing good and helping to save human life. 
This feeling supports me through all my weariness. 

The last ship which left Europe before the declaration 



NATIVE IMPRESSIONS REGARDING THE WAR 139 

of war brought me several cases of drugs and two of 
bandages, the last a gift from a lady supporter, so that 
I am now provided with what is necessary for carrying 
on the hospital for some months. The goods for Africa 
which were not sent by this vessel are still lying on the 
quays of Havre and Bordeaux. Who knows when they 
will arrive, or whether they will get here at all ? 



I am worried, however, about how to provide food 
for the sick, for there is something like a famine in the 
district thanks to the elephants ! People in Europe 
usually imagine that where " civilisation " comes, the 
wild animals begin to die out. That may be the case 
in many districts, but in others the very opposite 
happens, and that for three reasons. First, if, as is 
often the case, the native population diminishes, there 
is less hunting done. Secondly, what hunting is done 
is less successful, for the natives have forgotten how 
to trap the animals in the primitive but often extremely 
ingenious manner of their ancestors, and have got 
accustomed to hunting them with firearms. But in 
view of eventual possibilities it has been for years the 
policy of all Governments in Equatorial Africa to allow 
the natives only small quantities of gunpowder ; nor 
may they possess modern sporting guns ; they can only 
have the old flintlocks. Thirdly, the war on the wild 
animals is carried on much less energetically because 
the natives no longer have the time to devote to it. 
At timber felling and rafting they earn more money 
than they can by hunting, so that the elephants 
flourish and increase in numbers almost unhindered, 
and the results of this we are now beginning to 



i 4 o VIII. CHRISTMAS, 1914 

experience. The banana plantations of the villages 
north-west from here, which provide us with so much 
of our food, are continually visited by elephants. 
Twenty of these creatures are enough to lay waste a 
whole plantation in a night, and what they do not eat 
they trample underfoot. 

It is not, however, to the plantations only that the 
elephants are a danger. The telegraph line from 
N'Djole to the interior knows something about the 
damage they do. The long, straight clearing through 
the forest which marks its course is in itself a tremendous 
attraction to the animals, but the straight, smooth 
telegraph poles are irresistible. They seem to have 
been provided expressly for pachyderms to rub them- 
selves against ! They are not all very firm, and a 
very little rubbing brings one of the weaker ones to 
the ground, but there is always another like it not very 
far off. Thus, in a single night one strong elephant 
can bring down a big stretch of telegraph line, and days 
may pass before the occupants of the nearest guard 
station have discovered the damage and repaired it. 

Although the elephants that roam the neighbourhood 
cause me so much anxiety about the feeding of my 
patients, I have not yet seen one, and very probably 
never shall. During the day . they stay in unap- 
proachable swamps in order to sally out at night and 
plunder the plantations which they have reconnoitred 
beforehand. A native who is here for the treatment of 
his wife, who has heart complaint, is a clever wood- 
carver, and carved me an elephant. Though I admired 
this work of primitive art, I ventured to remark that he 
seemed not to have got the body quite right. The 
artist, insulted, shrugged his shoulders. "Do you 



FAMINE, ELEPHANTS, AND HUNTING 141 

think you can teach me what an elephant looks like ? 
I once had one on top of me, trying to trample me 
underfoot." The artist was, in fact, also a famous 
elephant hunter. Their method now is to go out by 
day and creep to within ten paces of the elephant, when 
they discharge their flintlock at him. If the shot is not 
fatal and they are discovered by the animal, they are 
then, of course, in a very unpleasant position. 

Hitherto I have been able to help out the feeding of 
my sick with rice, if bananas were short, but I can do 
so no more. What we still have left we must keep for 
ourselves, for whether we shall get any more from 
Europe is more than questionable. 



CHAPTER IX 

CHRISTMAS, 



CHRISTMAS again in the forest, but again a war 
Christmas! The candle ends which we saved from 
last year have been used up on our this year's Christmas 
(palm) tree. 

It was a year of difficulties, with a great deal of extra 
work during the early months. Heavy rainstorms had 
undermined the spot on which the largest hospital 
ward stood, so that I had to decide to build a wall 
round it, and also to lay stone gutters throughout the 
hospital to carry off the water which streamed from the 
hill just above it. This needed a number of stones, 
some of them big ones, and these were either fetched 
by canoe or rolled down from the hill ; but I had always 
to be on the spot, and often to lend a hand. Our next 
object was the wall, for which we got help from a native 
who knew something about building, and we fortunately 
had on the station a cask of half-spoilt cement. In 
four months the work was finished. 

I was hoping now to have a little rest, when I 
discovered that, in spite of all our precautions, the 
termites had got into the chests where we kept our 
store of drugs and bandages. This necessitated the 
opening and unpacking of the cases, a work which 
occupied all our spare time for weeks. Fortunately, I 
had noticed them in good time, or the damage done 



TERMITES. TRAVELLER ANTS 143 

would have been much greater; but the peculiar 
delicate smell, like that of burning, which the termites 
produce, had attracted my attention. Externally there 
was no sign of them; the invasion had been made 
from the floor through a tiny hole, and from the first 
case they had eaten their way into the others which 
stood by and upon it* They had apparently been 
attracted by a bottle of medicinal syrup, the cork of 
which had got loose. 

Oh, the fight that has to be carried on in Africa with 
creeping insects! What time one loses over the 
thorough precautions that have to be taken ! And with 
what helpless rage one has to confess again and again 
that one has been outwitted ! My wife learnt how to 
solder, in order to be able to close up the flour and 
maize in tins, but it sometimes happens that you find 
swarms of the terrible little weevils (French charan- 
fons) even in the soldered tins. The maize for the 
fowls they soon reduce to dust. 

Very much dreaded here, too, are small scorpions 
and other poisonous insects. One learns to be so 
careful that one never puts one's hand straight into a 
drawer or a box as in Europe. The eyes must precede 
the hand. 

Another serious enemy is the traveller ant, which 
belongs to the genus Dorylus, and from it we suffer a 
great deal. On their great migrations they march 
five of six abreast in perfect order, and I once watched 
a column near my house which took thirty-six hours 
tp march past. If their course is over open ground 
and they have to cross a path, the warriors form up 
in several rows on either side and with their large jaws 
form a kind of palisade to protect the procession, in 



I 4 4 IX. CHRISTMAS, 1915 

which the ordinary traveller ants are carrying the 
young ones with them. In forming the palisade the 
warriors turn their backs to the procession like the 
Cossacks when protecting the Czar and in that 
position they remain for hours at a time. 

As a rule there are three or four columns marching 
abreast of each other, but independently, from five to 
fifty yards apart. All at once they break up the 
column and disperse, though how the word of command 
is given we do not yet know. Anyhow, in the twinkling 
of an eye a huge area is covered with a quivering, black 
mass, and every living thing upon it is doomed. Even 
the great spiders in the trees cannot escape, for these 
terrible ravagers creep after them in crowds up to the 
very highest twigs ; and if the spiders, in despair, junip 
from the trees, they fall victims to the ants on the 
ground. It is a horrible sight. The militarism of the 
forest will very nearly bear comparison with that of 
Europe ! 

Our house lies on one of the main routes of the 
traveller ants, which swarm mostly during the night. 
A peculiar scratching and clucking of the fowls gives 
us warning of the danger, and then there is no time to 
be lost, I jump out of bed, run to the fowl- house, and 
open the door, through which the birds rush out. 
Shut in, they would inevitably be the prey of the ants, 
which creep into their mouths and nostrils until they 
are suffocated, and then devour them, so that in a 
short time nothing is left but their white bones. The 
chickens usually fall victims to the robbers ; the fowls 
can defend themselves till help comes. 

Meanwhile my wife has taken the bugle from the 
wall and blown It three times, which is the signal for 



TERMITES. TRAVELLER ANTS 145 

N'Kendju and some men from the hospital to bring 
bucketfuls of water from the river. When they arrive, 
the water is mixed with lysol, and the ground all round 
the house and under it is sprinkled. While we are 
doing this we get very badly treated by the warriors, 
for they creep over us and bite us vigorously ; I once 
counted nearly fifty on me. They bite themselves so 
firmly in with their jaws that one cannot pull them ofi. 
If one tries to do so the body comes away, but the jaws 
remain in the flesh and have to be taken out separately 
afterwards. At last the ants move on, leaving thou- 
sands of corpses in the puddles, for they cannot stand 
the smell of the lysol ; and so ends the little drama 
which we have been playing in the darkness, with no 
light but that of the lantern which my wife has been 
holding. Once we were attacked by them three times 
in one week, and Mr. Coillard, the missionary, records in 
his memoirs, which I am just now reading, that he, too, 
suffered severely from them in the Zambesi district. 

The most extensive migrations of these ants take 
place at the beginning and end of the rainy season, and 
between these two periods there is much less reason 
to expect an attack. As to size, these ants are not 
much bigger than our European red ones, but their 
jaws are much more strongly developed, and they 
march at a much greater speed, a difference which I 
have noticed as being common to all species of African 

ants. 

* 

* * 

Joseph has left me. Being cut off from Strasbourg, 
the source of my funds, and obliged to contract debts, 
I found myself compelled to reduce his wages from 



I 4 6 IX. CHRISTMAS, 1915 

70 francs to 35 francs, telling him I had decided on 
this only from extreme necessity. Nevertheless, he 
gave me notice, adding that " his dignity would not 
allow him to serve me for so small a sum." He lives 
with his parents on the opposite bank of the river, and 
had been keeping a .money-box with a view to the 
purchase of a wife. This had now to be opened, and 
it contained nearly 8 (200 francs), but in a few weeks 
it had all been frittered away. 

Now I have to depend only on N'Kendju's help. 
He is quite handy and useful, except on the days when 
he is out of temper, when nothing can be done with 
him ; but in any case I have to do a good many things 
that Joseph used to do. 

In the treatment of ulcers and suppurating wounds 
I have found pure methylen- violet most useful. This 
is a drug which is known to the trade as Merk's 
Pyoktanin. The credit of having made the decisive 
experiments regarding the disinfecting power of concen- 
trated dyestuffs belongs to Professor Stilling, of 
Strasbourg, a specialist in diseases of the eye. He 
placed at my disposal a quantity of Pyoktanin which 
had been prepared under his superintendence so that 
I might test it here and it reached me not long before 
the outbreak of war. I began its use with some 
prejudice against it, but the results are such that I 
gladly put up with the unpleasant colour. Methylen- 
violet has the peculiarity of killing the bacteria without 
affecting or injuring the tissues or being in the least 
degree poisonous ; in this respect it is much superior 
to corrosive sublimate, carbolic acid, or tincturfe of 
iodine. For the doctor in the forest it is indispensable. 
Besides this, Pyoktanin does, so far as my observation 



HOSPITAL HAPPENINGS 147 

goes, promote in a striking way the growth of new skin 
when ulcers are healing. 

Before the war I had begun to make a small charge 
for the medicine to those patients who seemed not to be 
absolutely poor, and this brought in something like 200 
francs (8) a month. Even though it was only a frac- 
tion of the real value of the medicines dispensed, it was 
something. Now there is no money in the country, and 
I have to treat the natives almost entirely for nothing. 

Of the whites, many who have been prevented by the 
war from going home have now been four or five years 
under the equator and are thoroughly exhausted, so 
that they have to resort to the doctor " for repairs," 
as we say on the Ogowe. Such patients are sometimes 
with us for weeks, coming- often two and three together. 
Then I let them use my bedroom and sleep myself in 
a part of the verandah which has been protected from 
mosquitoes by wire-netting. That is, however, no 
great self-denial, for there is more air there than inside. 
The recovery of the patients is often due much less to 
my medicines than to the excellent invalid diet provided 
by the doctor's wife fortunately we still have a good 
supply of tins of condensed milk for our patients and 
I have for some time had to take care that sick people 
do not come up here from Cape Lopez for the sake of 
the diet instead of letting themselves be treated by the 
doctor there when there is one. With many of my 
patients I have become quite intimate, and from con- 
versation with those who stay here a long time I am 
always learning something fresh .about the country and 
the problem of its colonisation. 



148 IX. CHRISTMAS, 1915 

Our own health is not first-class, though it is not 
really bad ; tropical anaemia has, indeed, already set 
in. It shows itself in the way the slightest exertion 
tires one; I am quite exhausted, for example, after 
coming up the hill to my house, a matter of four minutes' 
walk. We also perceive in ourselves a symptom that 
accompanies it, an excessive nervousness, and besides 
these two things we find that our teeth are in a bad 
condition. My wife and I put temporary fillings into 
each other's teeth, and in this way I give her some 
relief, but no one can do for me what is really necessary, 
for that means the removal of two carious teeth which 
are too far gone to be saved. What stories could be 
told of toothache in the forest ! One white man whom 
I know was in such pain, a few years ago, that he could 
hold out no longer. " Wife/' he cried, " get me the 
small pincers from the tool-chest." Then he lay down, 
his wife knelt on his chest and got hold of the tooth 
as well as she could. The man put his hands on hers and 
together they got out the tooth, which was kind enough 
to let this treatment be successful. 

My mental freshness I have, strange to say, pre- 
served almost completely in spite of anaemia and 
fatigue. If the day has not been too exhausting I can 
give a couple of hours after supper to my studies in 
ethics and civilisation as part of the history of human 
thought, any books I need for it and have not with me 
being sent me by Professor Strohl, of Zurich University. 
Strange, indeed, are the surroundings amid which I 
study ; nay table stands inside the lattice-door which 
leads on to the vei^mdah, so that I may snatch as much 
as possible of the light evening breeze. The palms 
rustle an obtKgato to the loud music of the crickets and 




s. 



s 
o 



TOOTHACHE. NECESSITY OF MENTAL WORK 149 

the toads, and from the forest come harsh and terrifying 
cries of all sorts. Caraihba, my faithful dog, growls 
gently on the verandah, to let me know that he is there, 
and at my feet, under the table, lies a small dwarf 
antelope. In this solitude I try to set in order thoughts 
which have been stirring in me since 1900, in the hope 
of giving some little help to the restoration of civilisa- 
tion. Solitude of the primeval forest, how can I ever 
thank you enough for what you have been to me ? . . . 

The hour between lunch and the resumption of work 
in the hospital is given to music, as is also Sunday 
afternoon, and here, too, I feel the blessing of working 
" far from the madding crowd," for there are many of 
J. S. Bach's organ pieces into the meaning of which I 
can now enter with greater ease and deeper appreciation 
than ever before. 

Mental work one must have, if one is to keep one's 
self in moral health in Africa; hence the man of 
culture, though it may seem a strange thing to say, can 
stand life in the forest better than the uneducated man, 
because he has a means of recreation of which the other 
knows nothing. When one reads a good book on a 
serious subject one is no longer the creature that has 
been exhausting itself the whole day in the contest with 
the unreliability of the natives and the tiresome worry 
of the insects ; one becomes once more a man ! Woe 
to him. who does not in some such way pull himself 
together and gather new strength ; the terrible prose 
of African life will bring him to ruin ! Not long ago I 
had a visit from a white timber merchant, and when I 
accompanied him to the canoe on his departure I asked 
him whether I could not provide him with something to 
read on the two days' journey in front of him. " Many 



150 IX. CHRISTMAS, 

thanks," he replied, " but I am already supplied," and 
he showed me, lying on the thwart of the boat, a book, 
which was Jacob Boehme's " Aurora/' The work of 
the great German shoemaker and mystic, written at 
the beginning of the seventeenth century, accompanies 
him on all his journeys. We know how nearly all 
great African travellers have taken with them solid 
matter for reading. 



Newspapers one can hardly bear to look at. The 
printed string of words, written with a view to the 
single, quickly-passing day, seems here, where time is, 
so to say, standing still, positively grotesque. Whether 
we will or no, all of us here live under the influence of 
the daily repeated experience that nature is everything 
and man is nothing. This brings into our general view 
of life and this even in the case of the less educated- 
something which makes us conscious of the f everishness 
and vanity of the life of Europe ; it seems almost 
something abnormal that over a portion of the earth's 
surface nature should be nothing and man every- 
thing I 

News of the war comes here fairly regularly. Either 
from N'DjSle, through which passes the main tele- 
graph line from Libreville to the interior, or from Cape 
Lopez, telegraphic news comes to us every fortnight, a 
selection from the various daily items. It is sent by 
the District Commandant to the stores and the two 
mission stations by means of a native soldier, who waits 
till we have read it and give it back to him. Then for 
another fortnight we think of the war only in the most 



NEWSPAPERS. WAR NEWS I5 i 

general way. What the frame of mind must be of those 
who have to go through the excitement of reading war 
news every day we can hardly imagine. Certainly we 
do not envy them 1 

About this time it became known that of the whites 
who had gone home to fulfil their military duties ten 
had already been killed, and it made a great impression 
on the natives. " Ten men killed already in this war ! ' ' 
said an old Pahouin. " Why, then, don't the tribes 
meet for a palaver ? How can they pay for all these 
dead men ? " For, with the natives, it is a rule that all 
who fall in a war, whether on the victorious or on thq 
defeated side, must be paid for by the other side. 

Directly the post has come in, Aloys, my cook, stops 
me to ask : " Doctor, is it still war ? " " Yes, Aloys, 
still war/' Then he shakes his head sadly and says to 
himself several times : " Oh, lala ! Oh, lala ! " He is 
one of the negroes whose soul is really saddened by the 
thought of the war. 

Now we have to be very economical with our Euro- 
pean foodstuffs, and potatoes have become a delicacy. 
A short time ago a white neighbour sent me by his 
boy a present of several dozen, from which I inferred 
that he was not well and would soon be needing 
my services, and so it turned out ! Since the war we 
have trained ourselves to eat monkey flesh. One of the 
missionaries on the station keeps a black huntsman, 
and sends-us regularly some of his booty ; it is monkeys 
that he shoots most frequently, since they are the game 
he finds easiest to bring down. Their flesh tastes some, 
thing like goat's flesh, but has a kind of sweetish taste 
tliat the latter has not. People may think what they 
like about Darwinism and the descent of man, but the 



15* IX. CHRISTMAS, 1915 

prejudice against monkey flesh is not so easily got rid 
of. " Doctor," said a white man to me a few days ago, 
" eating monkeys is the first step in cannibalism " ! 

At the end of the summer (1916) we were able to join 
our missionary neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Morel, of 
Samkita, in a visit of some weeks to Cape Lopez, 
where a trading company, several of whose employees 
had benefited by our treatment and hospitality during 
illness, placed three rooms in one of their stores at our 
disposal. The sea air worked wonders for our health. 



CHAPTER X 

THE MISSION 

July, 

IT is the dry season. Every evening we go for a 
walk on the big sandbanks in the river bed and enjoy 
the breeze which is blowing upstream. The hospital 
is not so busy as usual at this season, for the villagers 
are occupied with their great fishing expeditions, and 
will not bring me any patients till they are over. So I 
will make use of these vacant hours to note down the 
impressions I have formed about the mission. What 
do I really think about mission work after three years 
on a mission station ? 

What does the forest dweller understand of Chris- 
tianity, and how does he understand or misunder- 
stand it ? In Europe I met the objection again and 
again that Christianity is something too high for 
primitive man, and it used to disturb me ; now, as a 
result of my experience, I can boldly declare, " No ; it 
is not/' 

First, let me say that the child of nature thinks a 
great deal more -than is generally supposed. Even 
though he can neither read nor write, he has ideas on 
many more subjects than we imagine. Conversations 
I have had in the hospital with old natives about the 
ultimate things of life have deeply impressed me. The 
distinction between white and coloured, educated and 



r 5 4 X. THE MISSION 

uneducated, disappears when one gets talking with the 
forest dweller about our relations to each other, to man- 
kind, to the universe, and to the infinite. " The 
negroes are deeper than we are," a white man once said 
to me, " because they don't read newspapers," and the 
paradox has some truth in it. 

They have, then, a great natural capacity for taking 
in the elements of religion, though the historical element 
in Christianity lies, naturally, outside their ken. The 
negro lives with a general view of things which is inno- 
cent of history, and he has no means of measuring and 
appreciating the time-interval between Jesus and our- 
selves. Similarly, the doctrinal statements which 
explain how the divine plan of redemption was pre- 
pared and effected, are not easily made intelligible to 
him, even though he has an elementary consciousness 
of what redemption is. Christianity is for him the light 
that shines amid the darkness of his fears ; it assures 
him that he- is not in the power of nature-spirits, 
ancestral spirits, or fetishes, and that no human being 
has any sinister power over another, since the will of 
God really controls everything that goes on in the world. 

** I lay in cruel bondage, 
Thou cam'st-and mad'st me free I " 

These words from Paul Gerhardt's Advent hymn 
express better than any others what Christianity means 
for primitive man. That is again and again the thought 
that fills my mind., when I take part in a service on a 
mission station. 

It is well known that hopes and fears about a world 
beyond play no part in the religion of primitive man ; 
the child of nature does not fear death, but regards it 
merely as something natural. The more mediaeval 



PRIMITIVE MAN AND THE RELIGION OF JESUS 155 

form of Christianity which keeps anxiety about a judg- 
ment to come in the foreground, has fewer points of con- 
tact with his mentality than the more ethical form. C To 
him Christianity is the moral view of life and the world, 
which was revealed by Jesus ; it is a body of teaching 
about the kingdom of God and the grace of God. 

Moreover, there slumbers within him an ethical 
rationalist. He has a natural responsiveness to the 
notion of goodness and all that is connected with it in 
religion. Certainly, Rousseau and the illuininati of 
that age idealised the child of nature, but there was 
nevertheless truth in their views about him in their 
belief, that is, in his possession of high moral and 
rational capacities. No one must think that he has 
described the thought-world of the negro when he has 
made a full list of all the superstitious ideas which he 
has taken over, and the traditional legal rules of his 
tribe. They do not form his whole universe, although 
he is controlled by them. ' There lives within him a dim 
suspicion that a correct view of what is truly good 
must be attainable as the result of reflection. In pro- 
portion as he becomes familiar with the higher moral 
ideas of the religion of Jesus, he finds utterance for 
something in himself that has hitherto been dumb, and 
something that has been tightly bound up finds release. 
The longer I live among the Ogowe negroes, the clearer 
this becomes to me. 

Thus redemption through Jesus is experienced by 
him as a two-fold liberation ; his view of the world is 
purged of the previously dominant element of fear, and 
it becomes ethical instead of unethical. Never have I 
felt so strongly the victorious power of what is simplest 
in the teaching of Jesus as when, in the big schoolroom 



I 5 6 X. THE MISSION 

at Lambarene, which serves as a church as welT, I have 
bden explaining the Sermon on the Mount, the parables 
of the Master, and the sayings of St. Paul about the new 
life in which we live. 



But now, how far does the negro, as a Christian, really 
become another man? At his baptism he has re- 
nounced all superstition, but superstition is so woven 
into the texture of his own life and that of the society 
in which he lives, that it cannot be got rid of in twenty- 
four hours ; he falls again and again in big things as in 
small. I think, however, that we can take too seriously 
the customs and practices from which he cannot set 
himself entirely free ; the important thing is to make 
him understand that nothing no evil spirit really 
exists behind his heathenism. 

If a child enters the world in our hospital its mother 
and itself are both painted white all over face and body 
so as to make them look terrifying, a custom which is 
found in practice among almost all primitive peoples. 
The object is to either frighten or to deceive the evil 
spirits which on such an occasion have a special oppor- 
tunity of being dangerous. I do not worry myself 
about this usage ; I even say sometimes, as soon as the 
child is born : " Take care you don't forget the paint- 
ing ! " There are times when a little friendly irony is 
more dangerous to the spirits and the fetishes than zeal 
expended on a direct attack upon them. I venture 'to 
remind my readers that we Europeans, ourselves, have 
many customs which, although we never think about it, 
had their origin in heathen ideas. 
" The ethical conversion, also, is often incomplete with 



NATIVE CHRISTIANS I 57 

a negro, but in order to be just to such a convert one 
must distinguish between the real morality which 
springs from the heart, and the respectable morality of 
society ; it is wonderful how faithful he often is to the 
former. One must live among them to know how much 
it means when a man, because he is a Christian, will not 
wreak the vengeance which he is expected to take, or 
even the blood revenge which is thought to be an 
obligation on him. On the whole I feel that the 
primitive man is much more good natured than we 
Europeans are ; with Christianity added to his good 
qualities wonderfully noble characters can result. I 
expect I am not the only white man who feels himself 
put to shame by the natives. 

But to give up the common habit of lying and the 
readiness to steal, and to become a more or less reliable 
man in our sense, is something different from practising 
the-religion of love. If I may venture on a paradox, I 
would say that the converted native is a moral man 
more often than he is an honourable one. Still, little can 
be effected by condemnatory expressions. We must 
see to it that we put as few temptations as possible in 
the way of the coloured Christian. 

But there are native Christians who are in every 
respect thoroughly moral personalities ; I meet one 
such every day. It is Ojembo, the teacher in our boys' 
school, whose name means " the song " ; I look upon 
frim as one of the finest men that I know anywhere. 

How is it that traders and officials so often speak so 
unfavourably of native Christians ? On my very first 
journey up the river I learnt from two fellow travellers 
that they never, on principle, engage any Christian 
"boys." The fact is that Christianity is considered 



I 5 S X. THE MISSION 

responsible for the unfavourable phenomena of intel- 
lectual emancipation. The young Christians have 
mostly been in our mission schools, and get into the 
difficult position which for the native is so often bound 
up with a school education. They think themselves 
too good for many kinds of work, and will no longer be 
treated as ordinary negroes. I have experienced this 
with some of my own boys. One of them, Atombogunjo 
by name, who was in the first class at N'G6m6, worked 
for me once during the school holidays. On the very 
first day, while he was washing up on the verandah, he 
stuck up a school book, open, before him. " What a 
fine boy 1 What keenness for learning ! " said my wife. 
Ultimately, however, we found that the open school 
book meant something beyond a desire for knowledge ; 
it was also a symbol of independence intended to show 
us that the fifteen-year-old youth was too good for 
ordinary service, and was no longer willing to be treated 
as a mere " boy," like other " boys." Finally, I could 
stand his conceit no longer, and put him unceremoniously 
outside the door. 

Now in the colonies almost all schools are mission 
schools the Governments establish hardly any, but 
leave the work to the missions so that aH the unhealthy 
phenomena which accompany intellectual emancipation 
show themselves among the scholars and are therefore 
put down as the fault of Christianity. The whites, 
however, often forget what they owe to the missions, 
Once, when, on board the steamer, the manager of a 
'large company began to abuse the missions in my 
presence, I asked him : " Where, then, did the black 
clerks and the black store employees who work for you, 
get their education ? To whom do you owe it that you 



HOW A MISSION WORKS 159 

can find natives here on the Ogowe who can read, write, 
and handle figures, and who axe to a certain extent 
reliable ? " He had no reply to make to that. 



But how is a mission carried on ? With what must 
it be provided, and- how does it work ? In Europe 
many people picture it as a sort of village parsonage set 
down in the virgin forest, but it is something much 
more comprehensive than that, and more complicated 
too ; it may be said to be the seat of a bishop, an 
educational centre, a farming establishment, and a 
market 1 

In an ordinary mission station there must be one 
missionary as head, another for the mission work in the 
district, a man to teach in the boys' school, and a 
woman for the girls' school, with one or two practical 
workers, and, if possible, a doctor. Only a mission 
station of that size can accomplish anything worth 
mentioning ; an incomplete one only uses up men and 
money with no permanent result. 

As an illustration of this take Talagonga, where at 
the beginning of my time here there was a splendid 
evangelist working, Mr. Ford, an American, but the 
station had no practical workers. There came a time 
when it was absolutely necessary to repair the floor of 
the house, built upon piles, in which Mr. and Mrs. Ford 
and their children lived, because mosquitoes found their 
way in through the holes in it, and, as fever carriers, 
endangered the lives of the inmates. So Mr. Ford set 
to work at the job and finished it in about two months, 
during which time the neighbourhood was left without 
any spiritual direction. A practical worker would have 



!6o X. THE MISSION 

done it all in three weeks and made a permanent job 
of it, not mere temporary patchwork. This is one 
example out of hundreds of the useless, unprofitable 
condition of insufficiently manned mission stations. 

In the tropics a man can do at most half of what he 
can manage in a temperate climate. If he is dragged 
about from one task to another he gets used up so 
quickly that, though he is still on the spot, the working 
capacity he represents is nil. Hence a strict division 
of labour is absolutely necessary, though on the ot^er 
hand, each member must be able, when circumstances 
demand it, to turn his hand to anything. A missionary 
who does not understand something of practical work, 
of garden work, of treatment of the sick, is a misfortune 
to a mission station. 

The missionary who is there for the evangelistic work 
must as a rule have nothing to do with the carrying on 
of the daily work of the station ; he must be free to 
undertake every day his longer or shorter journeys for 
the purpose of visiting the villages, nor must he be 
obliged to be back at the mission on a particular day. 
He may be invited while out on one -of his journeys to 
go to this or that village which was not included in his 
plan, because the people there want to hear the Gospel. 
He must never answer that he has no time, but must be 
able to give them two or three days or even a whole 
week. When he gets back he must rest, for an unbroken 
fortnight on the river or on forest paths will certainly 
have exhausted him. 

Too few missionary journeys, and those too hastily 
carried through, that is the miserable mistake of almost 
all missions, and the cause of it always is that in con- 
sequence of an insufficient number of workers or of 



HOW A MISSION WORKS 161 

unwise division of work, the evangelist takes part in 
the superintendence of the station, and the Head of the 
station goes travelling. 

On the Head of the station falls the work of the ser- 
vices in the station and in the nearest villages, together 
with the superintendence of the schools and of the 
cultivated knd. He ought really never to leave the 
station for a day ; he must have his eyes everywhere, 
and any one ought to be able to speak to him at any 
time. His most prosaic business is conducting the 
market. The foodstuffs which we need for the school 
children, the labourers, and the boatmen of the station, 
we do not have to buy with money. Only when the 
natives know that they can get satisfactory goods of all 
sorts from us, do they bring us regular supplies of 
manioc, bananas, and dried fish; so the mission must 
have a^ shop. Two or three times a week the natives 
come with the product of their plots and with fish, and 
barter what they have brought for salt, nails, kerosene, 
fishing materials, tobacco, saws, knives, axes, and 
cloth. We do not supply rum or spirits. This takes 
up the Head's whole morning, and then what a time it 
takes him in addition to send off his European orders 
correctly and at the right time, to keep the accounts 
accurately, to pay the boatmen and the labourers their 
wages, and to look after all the cultivated ground ! 
What losses are entailed, too, if he fails to have necessary 
material in hand when it is wanted ! A roof has to be 
put on, and there are no raffia leaves ready, dried and 
sewn into sheets ; there is some building to be done, 
and .there are no beams and no boards ; or the best 
time far brickmaking has been allowed to pass unused ; 
pr he has postponed too long the re-smoking of the 



X 6a X. THE MISSION 

store of dried fish for the school children, and discovers 
one morning that it is all a mass of worms and good for 
nothing ! It all depends on the Head whether the 
mission station does its work cheaply and successfully, 
or expensively and unsuccessfully. 

On one of our stations, for example, there had been 
for several years a succession of Heads who knew but 
little about land cultivation, and had not pruned the 
coffee bushes properly. They had let them grow so 
tall that they no longer produced what they ought to 
have done, -and ladders had to be used to gather 
the crop. Then it was necessary to cut them off just 
above the ground, and it will be years before they have 
produced new shoots which bear a normal crop. 

Another of the Head's duties is to investigate the not 
infrequent cases of theft, in which matter he has more 
opportunity than he likes for developing whatever 
detective talent he may possess. He has also to 
straighten out all the disputes between the coloured 
inhabitants of the settlement, and in this he must 
never show any impatience. For hours. together he 
must Esten attentively to their barren argumentations, 
since otherwise he is not the upright judge according 
to their notions. If canoes come from another station 
he must entertain and feed the rowers. If the steamer's 
siren sounds, he must be off with canoes to the landing 
place to take charge of the mail and the cases of goods. 

Again, it may happen that there has been too small 
a supply of foodstuffs brought in on a market day; 
this means that canoes must be sent off to the more 
distant villages to secure what is needed. The expedi- 
tion may take two or three days ; what work is to be 
left undone because of it ? And then the canoes may 



MISSION SCHOOLS X 6 3 

come back empty, so that a similar expedition has to be 
made in another direction ! 

What a terribly unromantic business life for one who 
came out to preach the religion of Jesus 1 If he had not 
to conduct the morning and evening services in the 
schoolroom and to preach on Sundays, the Head could 
almost forget that he was a missionary at all ! But it is 
just by means of the Christian sympathy and gentleness 
that .he shows in all this everyday business that he 
exercises his greatest influence; whatever level of 
spirituality the community reaches is due to nothing 
so much as to the success of its Head in this matter 
of Preaching without Words. 

* 

* * 

A word now about the schools. A school to which 
children come for instruction while they live at home 
is impossible here because of the distances ; there are 
villages, for example, attached to the Lambarene 
Station, which are sixty or seventy miles away from it. 
The children must therefore live on the station, and the 
parents bring them in October and take them away in 
July when the big fishing expeditions begin. In return 
for the cost of their living the children, both boys and 
girls, do some sort of work, and their day is arranged 
very much as follows : From 7 to 9 in the morning they 
are at work cutting down grass and bush, for the defence 
of the station against invasion by the forest is in the 
main their task. When they have done all the clearing 
that is necessary at one end of the settlement they can 
always go to some other part where the undergrowth 
will have shot up again as it was before. From 9 to 10 
is a rest .hour, during which they breakfast; from 



164 X. THE MISSION 

10 to 12 there is school. The recreation time between 
12 and i is usually spent in bathing and fishing. From 
2 to 4 there is school again, and after that, work again 
for about an hour aad a half. Some help in the cocoa 
plantation ; the boys often go to the practical worker 
to help him, and they prepare bricks, carry building 
material where it is wanted, or finish digging or other 
work on the soil. Then the food for the following day 
is given out ; at 6 comes the evening service, and after 
that they get supper ready. There is a big shed under 
which the children cook their bananas in native fashion, 
and they divide into groups of five or six, each of which 
has a pot and a fire hole to itself. At 9 they go to bed, 
that is, they retire to their plank bedsteads under the 
mosquito netting. On Sunday afternoons they make 
canoe expeditions, the mistress going out with a crew of 
girls. In the dry season they play on the sandbanks. 

The work of the boys' school suffers, unfortunately, 
in this way, that when the evangelist goes out on his 
preaching rounds, or when a canoe expedition is needed 
for any purpose, a crew of boys has to be taken for it, 
and they may.be absent for as much as a week. When 
shall we reach such a stage o_f efficiency that every 
mission station has its motor boat ? 

* 

* * 

Should a missionary have a thorough education ? 
Yes. The better a man's mental life and his intel- 
lectual interests are developed, the better he will be 
able to hold out in Africa. Without this safeguard he 
is soon in danger of becoming a nigger, as it is called 
here. This shows itself in the way he loses every higher 
point of view ; then his capacity for intellectual work 



THE PROBLEM OF BAPTISM 165 

diminishes, and lie begins, just like a negro, to attach 
importance to, and to argue at any length about, the 
smallest matters. In the matter of theology, too, the 
more thorough the training the better. 

That under certain circumstances a man may be a 
good missionary without having studied theology is 
proved by the example of Mr. Felix Faure, who at the 
present time is the Head of our station. He is by 
training an agricultural engineer (inginieur agronomc) 
and came to the Ogowe first of all to manage the 
station's agricultural land. At the same time he 
proved to be such an excellent preacher and evangelist 
that he became in time more missionary than planter, 

I am not quite in agreement with the manner in which 
baptism is practised here. The rule is that only adults are 
baptised, it being felt that only those should be received 
into the Christian community whose way of life has 
stood some amount of testing.* But do we thereby 
build up a church on a broad and safe basis ? Is it 
essential that the communities shall be composed only 
of members of comparatively blameless life ? I think 
we must further consider the question of how they are 
to make sure of a normal stream of new members. If 
we baptise the children of Christian parents, we have 
growing up among us a number of natives who have 
been in the Church and under its influence from their 
childhood upwards. Certainly there will be some 
among them who show themselves unworthy of the 
Christian name given them in their childhood, but there 

* Most Protestant missions practise infant baptism. There are 
acme, however, who object to it On the Ogowe, infant baptism is no* 
customary, because the American missionaries, who founded ta 
Protestant missions here, did not introduce it A. S. 



166 X. THE MISSION 

will be many others who, just because they belong to 
the Church and find within it support in the dangers 
that surround them, become and remain loyal members 
of it. Thus the question of infant baptism, which so 
disturbed the Church in .the early centuries, comes up 
again to-day in the mission field as a live issue. But if 
we wished to decide for infant baptism in the Ogowe 
district we should have in opposition to us nearly all 
the native evangelists and elders. 



The most difficult problem in the mission field arises 
from the fact that evangelistic work has to be done 
under two banners, the Catholic and the Protestant. 
How much grander would be the work undertaken in 
the name of Jesus if this distinction did not exist, and 
there were never two churches working in competition. 
On the Ogowe, indeed, the missionaries of both bodies 
live in quite correct, sometimes in even friendly, 
relations with one another, but that does not remove 
the rivalry which confuses the native and hinders the 
spread of the Gospel. 

I often visit lie Catholic mission stations in my 
capacity of doctor and so have been able to gather a 
fairly clear idea of the way in which they conduct their 
evangelistic work and their education. As to organisa- 
tion, their missions seem to me to be better managed 
than ours in several ways. If I had to distinguish 
between the aims which the two keep before them, I 
should say the Protestant mission puts in the first 
place the building up of Christian personalities, while 
the Catholic has in mind before all else the establishment 
on solid foundations of a church. The former object 



CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT MISSIONS 167 

is the higher one, but it does not take sufficient account 
0f realities. To make the work of training permanently 
successful, a firmly established church, which grows in a 
natural way with the increase in the number of Christian 
families, is necessary. The church history of every 
period teaches this. - Is it not the weakness as well as 
the greatness of Protestantism that it means personal 
religion too much and church too little ? 

For the work which the American missionaries began 
here and the French have continued, I feel a hearty 
admiration. It has produced among the natives 
human and Christian characters which would convince 
the most decided opponents of missions as to what the 
teaching of Jesus can do for primitive man. But now 
we ought to have the men and the means to found more 
stations further inland, and so exert an educational 
influence on the natives before they are reached by 
the white man's trade and the dangers and problems 
which it brings with it for the child of nature. 

Will this be possible within a measurable time? 
What will be the lot of mission work after the war ? 
How will the ruined peoples of Europe be able to 
contribute any longer the necessary means for the 
various spiritual undertakings in the world ? There is, 
also, this further difficulty that mission work can only 
flourish when it is to some extent international ; but the 
war has made anything international impossible for 
a long time. And, lastly, missions throughout the 
world will soon feel that, owing to the war, the white 
race has lost a great deal of its spiritual authority over 
the coloured ones. 



CHAPTER XI 

CONCLUSION 

FOR four years and a half we worked in Lambarene, 
but in the last of them we were able to spend the hot, 
rainy months between autumn and spring at the 
seaside. A white man who pitied my almost utterly 
exhausted wife put at our disposal, at the mouth of 
the Ogowe, two hours from Cape Lopez, a house which 
before the war had been the home of the man who 
watched his timber floats when they lay at anchor, 
but which had been empty since the trade came to a 
standstill. We shall never forget his kindness. Our 
principal food was herrings, which I caught in the sea. 
Of the abundance of fish in Cape Lopez Bay it is 
difficult for any one to form an adequate idea. 

Around the house stood the huts in which the white 
man's labourers had lived when the trade was in full 
swing. Now, half ruined, they served as sleeping places 
for negroes who passed through. On the second day 
after our arrival I went to see whether there was any 
one in them, but no one answered my calls. \Then I 
opened the doors one by one, and in the last hut saw 
a man lying on the ground with his head almost buried 
in the sand and ants running all over him. It was a 
victim of sleeping sickness whom his companions had 
left there, probably some days before, because they 
could not take him any further. He was past all help, 



LAST MONTHS IN AFRICA 169 

though he still breathed. While I was busied with him 
I could see through the door of the hut the bright blue 
waters of the bay in their frame of green woods, a 
scene of almost magic beauty, looking still more enchant- 
ing in the flood of golden light poured over it by the 
setting sun. To be shown in a single glance such a 
paradise and such helpless, hopeless misery, was over- 
whelming . . . but it was a symbol of the condition of 
Africa. 

On my return to Lambarene I found plenty to do, 
but this did not frighten me. I was fresh and 
vigorous again. Much of the work was caused just 
then by men who were ill with dysentery. Carriers 
for the military colony of the Cameroons had been 
impressed in our district, and many of them had caught 
the infection, but subcutaneous injections of emetin 
proved very effective even in the oldest cases. 

When this levy of carriers was made, one of my 
patients who had a bad ulcer on his foot wanted to 
join as a volunteer, so that Sis brother, who had been 
taken, might not have to go alone. I represented to 
him that in three or four days he would fall out and 
be left on the roadside, where he would assuredly die. 
However, he would not let himself be convinced, and 
I almost had to use violence to keep him back. 

I happened to be present when a body of impressed 
carriers who were to be taken to the Cameroons by 
water were embarked on the river steamer at N'G6md. 
Then the natives began to know by experience what 
war really is. The vessel had started amid the wailing 
of the women ; its trail of smoke had disappeared in 
the distinct, and the crowd had dispersed, but on a 
storfe on the river bank an old woman whose son had 



i 7 o XI. CONCLUSION 

been taken sat weeping silently. I took hold of her 
hand and wanted to comfort her, but she went on 
crying as if she did not hear me. Suddenly I felt that 
I was crying with her, silently, towards the setting sun, 
as she was. 

About that time I read a magazine article which 
maintained that there would always be wars, because 
a noble thirst for glory is an ineradicable element in 
the heart of man. These champions of militarism think 
of war only as idealised by ignorant enthusiasm or 
the necessity of self-defence. They would probably 
reconsider their opinions if they spent a day in one of 
the African theatres of war, walking along the paths 
in the virgin forest between lines of corpses of carriers 
who had sunk under their load and found a solitary 
death by the roadside, and if, with these innocent and 
unwilling victims before them, they were to meditate 
in the gloomy stillness of the forest on war as it really is. 

* 
* * 

How shall I sum up the resulting experience of these 
four and a half years ? On the whole it has confirmed 
my view of the considerations which drew me from 
the world of learning and art to the primeval forest. 
" The natives who live in the bosom of Nature are 
never so ill as we are, and do not feel pain so much." 
That is what my friends used to say to me, to try to keep 
me at home, but I have come to see that such state- 
ments are not true. Out here there prevail most of 
the diseases which we know in Europe, and several of 
them those hideous ones, I mean, which we brought 
here produce, if possible, more misery than they do 
amongst us. And the child of nature feels them as we 



FINAL RESULTS; WHY WE SHOULD HELP 171 

do, for to be human means to be subject to the power 
of that terrible lord whose name is Pain. 

Physical misery is great everywhere out here. Are 
we justified in shutting our eyes and ignoring it because 
our European newspapers tell us nothing about it ? 
We civilised people have been spoilt. .. If any one of us 
is ill the doctor comes at once. Is an operation 
necessary, the door of some hospital or other opens to 
us immediately. But let every one reflect on the 
meaning of the fact that out here millions and millions 
live without help or hope of it. Every day thousands 
and thousands endure the most terrible sufferings, 
though medical science could avert them. Every day 
there prevails in many and many a. far-off hut a despair 
which we could banish. Will each of my readers think 
what the last ten years of his family history would 
have been if they had been passed without medical or 
surgical help of any sort ? It is time that we should 
wake from slumber and face our responsibilities ! 

Believing it, as I do, to be my life's task to fight on 
behalf of the sick under far-off stars, I appeal to the 
sympathy which Jesus and religion generally call for, 
but at the same time I call to my help also our most 
fundamental ideas and reasonings. We ought to see 
the work that needs doing for the coloured folk in their 
misery, not as a mere " good work/' but as a duty that 
must not be shirked. 

Ever since the world's far-off lands were discovered, 
what has been the conduct of the white peoples to the 
coloured ones ? What is the meaning of the simple fact 
that this and that people has died out, that others are 
dying out, and that the condition of others is- getting 
worse and worse as a result of their discovery by men 



I 7 2 XI. CONCLUSION 

who professed to be followers of Jesus? Who can 
describe the injustice and the cruelties that in the course 
of centuries they have suffered at the hands of Euro- 
peans ? Who can measure the misery produced among 
them by the fiery drinks and the hideous diseases that 
we have taken to them ? If a record could be compiled 
of all that has happened between the white and the 
coloured races, it would make a book containing num- 
bers of pages, referring to recent as well as to early 
times, which the reader would have to turn over 
unread, because their contents would be too horrible. 

We and our civilisation are burdened, really, with a 
great debt. We are not free to confer benefits on these 
men, or not, as we please ; it is our duty. Anything 
we give them is not benevolence but atonement. For 
every one who scattered injury some one ought to go 
out to take help, and when we have done all that is in 
our power, we shall not have atoned for the thousandth 
part of our guilt. That is the foundation from which 
all deliberations about " works of mercy " out there 
must begin. 

It goes without saying that Governments must help 
with the atonement, but they cannot do so till there 
already exists in society a conviction on the subject. 
The Government alone ,can never discharge the duties 
of humanitarianism ; from the nature of the case that 
rests with society and individuals. 

-The Government can send out as many colonial 
doctors as it has at its disposal, and as the colonial 
budgets are able to pay for. It is well known that there 
are great colonising powers which cannot find even 
enough doctors to fill the places of those already working 
in. their colonies, though these are fax from sufficient to 



FINAL RESULTS. WHY WE SHOULD HELP 173 

cope with the need. So again, we see, the real burden of 
the humanitarian work must fall upon society and its 
individual members. We must have doctors who go 
among the coloured people of their own accord and are 
ready to put up with all that is meant by absence from 
home and civilisation. I can say from experience that 
they will find a rich reward for all that they renounce ic 
the good that they can do. 

Among the poor people out here they will not as 2 
rule be able to collect the cost of their own living and 
work ; men must come forward at home who will pro- 
vide what is necessary, and that is something that is 
due from all of us. But whom shall we get to make a 
beginning, without waiting till the duty is universally 
recognised and acted on ? 



The Fellowship of those who bear the Mark of Pain. 
Who are the members of this Fellowship ? Those who 
have learnt by experience what physical pain and bodily 
anguish mean, belong together all the world over ; they 
are united by a secret bond. One and all they know the 
horrors of suffering to which man can be exposed, and 
one and all they know the longing to be free from pain. 
He who has been delivered from pain must not think 
he is now free again, and at liberty to take life up 
just as it was before, entirely forgetful of the past. He 
is now a " man whose eyes are open " with regard to 
pain and anguish, and he must, help to overcome those 
two enemies (so far as human power can control them) 
and to bring to others the deliverance which he has 
himself enjoyed. The man who, with a doctor's help, 
has been pulled through a severe illness, must aid in 



, 74 XL CONCLUSION 

providing a helper such as he had himself, for those who 
otherwise could not have one. He who has been saved by 
an operation from death or torturing pain, must do his 
part to make it possible for the kindly anaesthetic and 
the helpful knife to begin their work, where death and 
torturing pain still rule unhindered. The mother who 
owes it to medical aid that her child still belongs to 
her, and' not to the cold earth, must help, so that the 
poor mother who has never seen a doctor may be spared 
what she has been spared. Where a man's death agony 
might have been terrible, but could fortunately be made 
tolerable by ,a doctor's skill, those who stood around his 
death bed must help, that others, too, may enjoy that 
same consolation when they lose their dear ones. 

Such is the Fellowship of those who bear the Mark of 
Pain, and on them lies the humanitarian task of pro* 
viding medical help in the colonies. Their gratitude 
should be the source of the gifts needed. Commissioned 
by them, doctors should go forth to carry out among 
the miserable in far-ofi lands all that ought to be done 
in the name of civilisation, human and humane. 

Sooner or later the idea which I here put forward will 
conquer the world, for with inexorable logic it carries 
with it the intellect as well as the heart. 

But is just now the right time to send it out into the 
world? Europe is ruined and fall of wretchedness. With 
all tke misery that we have to alleviate even under our 
very eyes, how can we think of f ar-off lands ? 

Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now 
always, and indeed then most truly when it seems 
most unsuitable to actual circumstances. Care for 
distress at home and care for distress elsewhere do but 
help each other if, working together, they wake men in 



THE FELLOWSHIP OF PAIN 173 

sufficient numbers from their thoughtlessness, and call 
into life a new spirit of humanity. 

But let no one say : " Suppose ' the Fellowship of 
those who bear the Mark of Pain ' does by way of be- 
ginning send one doctor here, another there, what is 
that to cope with the misery of the world ? " From 
my own experience and from that of all colonial doctors, 
I answer, that a single doctor out here with the most 
modest equipment means very much for very many. 
The good which he can accomplish surpasses a hundred- 
fold what he gives of his own life and the cost of the 
material support which he must have. Just with quinine 
and arsenic for malaria, with novarsenobenzol for the 
various diseases which spread through ulcerating sores, 
with emetin for dysentery, and with sufficient skill and 
apparatus for the most necessary operations, he can in 
a single year free from the power of suffering and death 
hundreds of men who must otherwise have succumbed 
to their fate in despair. It is just exactly the advance 
of tropical medicine during the last fifteen years which 
gives us a power over the sufferings of the men of far- 
off lands that borders on the miraculous. Is not this 
really a call to us ? 

For myself, now that my health, which since 1918 had 
been very uncertain, has been restored as the result of two 
operations, and that I have succeeded, by means of 
lectures and organ concerts, in discharging the debts 
which I had to incur during the war for the sake of my 
work, I venture to resolve to continue my activity 
among the suffering f oik of whom I have written. The 
work, indeed, as I began it, has been ruined by the war. 
The friends from two nations who joined in supporting 
us, have been, alas! deeply divided by what has 



175 XI. CONCLUSION 

happened in the world, and of those who might have 
helped us farther, many have been reduced to poverty by 
the war. It will be very difficult to collect the necessary 
funds, which again must be far larger than before, for 
the expenses will be three times as heavy, however 
modestly I replan our undertaking. 

Nevertheless, I have not lost courage. The misery 
I have seen gives me strength, and faith in my fellow- 
rnen supports my confidence in the future. I do hope 
that I shall find a sufficient number of people who, 
because they themselves have been saved from physical 
suffering, will respond to requests on behalf of those 
who are in similar need. ... I do hope that among 
the doctors of the world there will soon be several 
besides myself who will be sent out, here or there in the 
world, by " the Fellowship of those who bear the Mark 
of Pain." 

NICHOLAS" CLERGY HOUSE, 
STRASBOURG. 

August, 1920. 



INDEX 



ADMINISTRATION, French 

colonial, 116, 118 
African harbours, "West, 20 
Agriculture, 118 
Alcohol, 6, 24, 25, 44, 49, 96, 

114, 120, 124, 161 
American Mission, 21 
Anaemia, 6, 90, 148 
Anaesthetics, 66 
Analysis, blood, 84 
Animals, treatment of, at Dakar, 

*7 

Ant, traveller, 143 
Antipyrin, 37 
Apoplexy, 66 
Appendicitis, 53 
" Arrhenal," 90 
Arsenic, 90 
Arseno-benzol. See Raspberry 

disease. 

Atombogunjo, 158 
Atoxyl, 83, 85 
Aucoumea hlaineana, 109 
" Aurora," 150 

BACH, 3, 64, 149 

Banana, 70, 97, 140 

Barolea, 21 

Beetle, Bostrichid. 100 

Belgian-Congo Railway. 8 

Biborate of sodium, 73 

Blood analysis, 84 

Boehxne, Jacob. See " Aurora/' 

Boils, 69 

Books, 148 ; see also " Aurora." 

Bostrichid beetle, 100 

Brazzaville, 85 

Bromide of potassium, 37, 47 

Bruce, 81 

Building, raft, zc 

CADIER, Mr., 72 
Cameroons, 122 
Cancer, 53 



Cannibalism, 6, 69 
Canoe journey, 40 
Castellani, 81 

Catholic Mission, sixteenth con- 
Catholic Mission Station, 81 
Catholic Missions, the, 166 
Cattle, 5, 118 

Cause of sleeping sickness, 79 
Cayman, 72 
Cereals, 5 

Chaulmoogra oil, 89 ; sub- 
cutaneous injection of, 89 
Chills, 53 

Chloral hydrate, 47 
Christianity, 153 ; natives and, 

Christol, Mr., 26, 61 

Cinnamon, 4 

Civilisation and colonisation, 

antagonism of, 117 
Civilisation, comparative, 127 
Climate, 5, 40, 53 
Cloth, 96 
Cocoa, 4 
Coffee, 4 

Coillard, Mr., 145 
Colonial administration, French, 

1x6, 1x8 
Colonisation and civilisation, 

antagonism of, 1x7 
" Company of the Upper 

Ogowe, 120 
Compulsory labour, nS 
*' Concessions," 119 
Conditions of Europeans, 6 
Conveyance of sleeping sickness, 

S3 

Coralwood, 109 
Crawcraw, 87 

DAKAR, 16 
De Brazza, 7 
Delord, Mr., 89 



17* 

Dentistry, 55 



INDEX 



hos- 



Dishonesty, "<*** -*- r - 
Drink. See alcohol. _ 
Drinking habits, native, 44 
Dropsy, 75 
Dutton, 81 
Dysentery, 36* &> 9<> 

EATING sores, 88 

ISion? native, .; of 

missionaries, 164 
Elephantiasis, 36 
Elephants, 139, H* 

gSflg^S*-^ 



Galoas, 6 , 

Gambia fever, 8a 
Girls, native, 129 
Giossiwa palpalis, 42 *>., 

Gout, 53 

Grand Bassarn, 20 

Gratitude, native, 66 
HABITS, native drinking, 44 



conditions of, 6; 



Evangelical Mission, Pans, 23 
Expiration of River Ogowe, 7 
Tr^ort of timber, 108 
uvagance, native, 77 



Faure, Mr. Felix, 165 



of timber, 



Harbours, west African, 20 
Haug, Mr. (N'G6m6), 52, i9 
Heart disease, 45 
Hermann, Mr., 69 
Hernia, 55. 6 4. 9* fi 



of, 37; routine of, 32, 33 
Hospital, the, 31- 44. 591 lts 

scope, 78 
Housekeeping, 62 
Hunting, elephant, 141 
Hydrogen peroxide, 73 

IMPORTS, European, 5 
Industries, native, 124 
Influence, 'European, 91, 
war, 167 ; Portuguese, 70 
Insects, 143 
Insomnia, 54 
Ipecacuanha, 9 
Ironwood, 109 
Isolation of leprosy, 88 
Israelites, 127 
Itch (scabies), 36 



of 



Fernando Vaz, 68 
Fetishes, 50, 51 
Finance, 3 *o 

Irish and Fishing, 49. l68 
Food products, 98 
Foodstuffs, 15* 
Ford, Mr., 159 
Forest roads, 121, 122 
Forest, the virgin, 23, 39 
Fourier, 94 



116, 118 
GABOOS, 4* 



administration, 



FACOB BOEHME, 150 
Tesuit plantations, 7 
Jesus Christ, 93 W> r 55 

s7 P rSV4 5 8,65.73, 7* W 
136, 145 

KAST, Mr., 27, 3*> 6 
Kerosene, IH , . _ 
Kiboko (sjambok), 07 
Kocl^, 81 
Konakri, 17 

LABOUR, compulsory, 118 
Labour, native, 20, 31, 78, 95 1 1 1 
Labour problem. Su Native 
labour. 



INDEX 



179 



Labour, women's, 63 
Lambarene, 3. 5 8, 26, 39, 169 
Law, native, 73, 151 
Laziness, native, 441 112 
Leboeuf, 81 
Leopards, 71 
Leprosy, 36, 68, 88 
Libreville, 6, 21 
Lopez, Cape, 4, 94 
Lopez, Odoardo, 7 
Lumbar hernia, 65 

MAHOGANY, 108 

Malaria, 36, 5^, 59. 89 

Manioc, 70, 97 

Martin, 81 . 

Medical science, sleeping sick- 
ness and, 82 

Medicine men, 35, 48 . , f 

Medicine, native, 35 ; tropical, 10 

Medicines, prices of, 67 

Memory, loss of, 80 

Mental disease, 45 

Merchandise for natives, 115 

Merk's Pyoktanin, 146 

Methylen-violet, 146 

Mission, American, 21 ; six- 
teenth century, Catholic, 6; 
nineteenth century, Protes- 
tant, 8 
Mission school, the, 121, 129, 

158, 163 

Mission station, Catholic, 81 
Mission station, Lambarene, 39 
Mission, the, how worked, 159 
Missionaries, education of, 164 
Missionary Society, Paris, 8 
Missions, 153; stations and 
personnel of, 8 ; the Catholic, 
1 66 ; the Protestant, 165 
Mollusc, the boring, 109 
Monkey flesh, 72, I5* 
Monogamy, 126 
Morel, Mr. and Mrs., 71, I5 
Morphia, 47 

Mortality among' Europeans, o 
Mosquitoes, 60, 83 
Mouia, 80 

NASTIN, 89 - 

Native attitude towards war, 
138, 151; confidence, 36; 



dishonesty, 64, 102, 162; 
drinking habits, 44; educa- 
tion, 122 ; extravagance, 77 ; 
girls, 129 ; gratitude, 66 ; 
industries, 124, 161 ; labour, 
20, 31, 78, 95, *; law 
73, 151; laziness, * 44, 112; 
medicine, 35, 3 6 ' punish- 
ment, 75 ; superstitions, 65, 
155; unreliability, 29, 63, 
135 ; village, 24, 43 

Natives and Europeans, rela- 
tions between, 130 

Natives, and Christianity, 154 ' 
merchandise for, 115 ; taxa- 
tion of, 114 

Nature of sleeping sickness, 83 

Navigation, river, 2226, 41 

N'Djdle, 4 

N'Gomje, River, 70 

N'G6m6, 8, 26 

N'Gounje, 78 

Nicotine, 54 

N'Kendju, 73, J 4 6 

OGOWE, district of, 4 
Ogowe, River, 2, 4, 23 ; explora- 
tion of, 7 
Oil palm, 4, 70, 71 
Ojemba, 157 
Okoume, 108- 
Oleum gynocardia, 89 
Omnipon, 92 
Operations, 55, 65, 9* 
Opium, 35 
Orungu tnbe, 6 
Osteomyelitis, 66 

PAHOUINS, 6 

Palm, oil, 4, 7^ 7* 

Paris Evangelical Mission, 2, 3 

Paris Missionary Society, 8 

Permlngtnate of potash,88 
Personnel of missions, stations 
and, 8 

Plantations, Jesuit, 7 
Pleurisy, 53 
Pneumonia, 53 
Poison, 47, 4^ 
Polygamy, 126 



xSo 



INDEX 



Portuguese influence, 70 

Potassium, bromide of, 37, 47 

Potatoes, 5, 70, 151 

Prices, 137 

Prices of medicine, 67 

Products, food, 98 

Protestant Mission, nineteenth 

century, 8 

Protestant missions, the, 165 
Punishment, native, 75 
, Pyorrhoea, 55 

QUININE, 37, 56, 90 

RAFT building, 102 

Railway, Belgian-Congo, 8 

Rambaud, Mr., 64 

Raspberry disease, 87 

Rheumatism, 53, So 

Rice, 5 

River navigation, 22 20, 41 

River N'.Gomje, 70 

River Ogowe, 2, 23 

Roads, forest, 121, 122 

Robert, Mr., 131 

Rosewood, 109 

Rousseau, 155 

Routine of hospital (temporary), 

3*, 33 

Rubber, 4 

Rynchoprion penetrans, 86 

SALOL, 37 
Samkita, 8, 71 
Sandfleas, 86 



es (Itch), 

School, the Mission, 121, 129, 163 

Schools, mission, 158 

Sciatica, 80 

Scopolamin, 47 

Scorpions, 143 

Senegambia, 16 

Serval, lieutenant, 7 

Skulls (for fetishes), i 

Slavery, 6, 69 

Sleeping sickness, 36, 62, 78, 
8 1 ; and medical science, 82 ; 
cause of, 79 ; conveyance of, 
83 ; nature of, 83 ; symp- 
toms of, 80 

Sleeping Sickness Institute, 85 



Snakes, 72 

Stanley, 98 

Stations and personnel of mis- 
sions, 8 

Stilling, Professor, 146 

Strohl, Professor, 148 

Subcutaneous injection of chaul- 
moogra oil, 89 

Sunstroke, 58, 59 

Superstition, native, 65, 155 

Symptoms of sleeping sickness, 
80 

TABOU, 20 

Talagouga, 8, 71 

Taxation of natives, 114 

Teeth, 55, 148 

Teneriffe, 13 

Termites, 142 

Thymol, 55 

Timber, export of, 108 ; trade, 
4. 5, 25, 94100; felling 
and transport of, 95 101 ; 
varieties of, 108 

Tobacco, 49, 54, 96, 114 

Traveller ant, 143 

Treatment of animals at Dakar, 

17 

Trees, 39 

Tropical medicine, 16 
Trypanosoxnata, 82 
Tsetse fly, 42 
Tumours, 55 

ULCERS, 86, 146 

Unreliability, native, 29, 63, 135 

VANILLA, 4 

Varieties of timber, 108 
Village, native, 24, 43 
Virgin forest, the, 23, 39 

WAR, 136; influence of, 167; 
native attitude towards, 138, 

*5* 

Weaver bird, 72 
West African harbours, 30 
Whooping-cough, 52 
Wife-purchase, 76, 128 
Women, diseases of, 55 
Women's labour, 63 

YAM, 70 



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